Nona charts the journey of an elderly woman through the course of a single day. As she tries to juggle between her favourite wrestling show and a cute-as-a-cherub granddaughter’s demands for attention, an unexpected accident brings them even closer.
Pixar SparkShorts’ final instalment of a series of shorts spotlights the importance of family and how loved ones are always the biggest insurance in anyone’s life. Eagerly awaiting her favourite wrestling match for the week, Nona (grandmum) readies herself only to be interrupted by an unexpected guest- her toddler granddaughter. Amidst the child’s need to constantly gain Nona’s attention and the woman’s desperate need to watch the show, the Pixar film reaches its poignant denouement.
Disney+Hotstar presentation of Pixar SparkShorts brought in its finale with this week short, Louis Gonzales’ Nona. Clocking in at almost 6 minutes, the film follows a grandmum as she struggles to watch a wrestling match while her infant granddaughter launches a mission to let her not.
Pixar lives up to its sensitivity quotient with Nona hitting all the right notes about togetherness, family and loves lost. Embedded deep within the narrative is the undeniable feel-good nature that the dream merchant is often known for peddling. The best part about Nona was the fact that it said a lot, in very few words. As compared to the other shorts, Nona’s narrative may look simplistic, but it never feels reductive.
Nona, which loosely translates to ‘grandmother’, positions an elderly woman, living in a cosy apartment along with her pet dog. The film begins with a supposed weekday ritual that involves her wrapping up the laundry fast and steering her actions into the sixth gear in anticipation of something ahead. In a build-up to what audiences are not initially made privy to, Nona disconnects her landline, hangs the “no disturb” board outside her door, and even shuts the window to block out any stray sound, while quickly making herself a mug of coffee with three dollops of extra creamer. Her pet, well aware of this ritual, goes out of her way and places himself on the couch to enjoy the saga that’s about to unfold.
As woman and dog sit before the television screen, she adjusts her late husband’s picture frame toward the TV and switches on the wrestling match. A glint of pure joy crosses her eyes as she savours the loud clarion calls for each fighter in brilliant fluorescent outfits. As the fighter pack sucker punches against each other in a regal show of one-upmanship, Nona is swiftly transported to a fanciful realm, where she holds her husband’s hands tight, as they watch the live wrestling events play out before them.
Moments into her wishful reverie, the door bangs and she finds her cute-as-a-button granddaughter prancing about to get her attention. Never one to sully a mood, Nona smiles affectionately at her and hands over a painting set for her to play with and makes her way quickly back to the match. After repeated attempts at ignoring her, Nona is hardly able to contain the child. A freak accident later, the Pixar short reaches its denouement.
Much like its characteristic feature, the Pixar short slowly unravels and exposes the real extent of emotions that the central character undergoes. Nona breaks down. And through those big, fat tears, the audience gets a glimpse behind her excitable nature, her enthusiasm, and her deep yearning for her beloved husband. Gonzales’ treatment of such an emotional crest is equally deft. The reconciliation of the crisis moment is more than what’s expected (as is the case with most Pixar films).
Nona’s artwork is also credible. Gonzales populates his frames with street art-inspired motifs that are oddly paired with anime-esque smackdowns. The fact that the film hardly has any dialogues immediately bumps the relatability quotient that much higher.
As far as the characterisation of Nona is concerned, Pixar pushes the bill yet again. Divorced from the hackneyed tags such as ‘caring,’ ‘sacrificial’, or even ‘nurturing’, Gonzales’ Nona is about nerding out over professional wrestlers across the ring. But the magic of Pixar lies in its celebration of the true essence of human nature. The film spotlights a sense of hope and reinstates the belief that the dead may be gone, but the living sure gives a hell of a shot in trying to fill up their absence.
Verdict: Nona creates a world where everything is possible. But not because it’s magic, but because it’s life. The Pixar short should be a more-than-welcome change for the lockdown souls, who probably crave a familiar touch or yearn for home cooked-food from one time to another. Much like its title, the film feels like a big, warm, long hug from our Nonas.