Absolutely completely magical and spellbinding, perfect to be watched at Christmas Eve or on the day itself – The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse feels like a welcome triumph of small but important animation – capturing a simple children’s tale of the boy, the fox, a mole and a horse who find a family and home together whilst fairing the snow in search of – what, they’re not quite sure, how they get there – they’re not quite sure – and what will happen to them along the way.
The characters of the Boy, Mole, Fox and the Horse are well-defined and easy to follow – the little revelations about each of them share the story’s themes of kindness and togetherness, an important message to children is shared about trust regardless of the strangeness of the creature or how unknown they are. Jude Cowell Nicoll brings a touch of childlike wonder to the boy; the aged experience is captured in the noble horse of Gabriel Byrne, and the cunning fox is brought to life by Idris Elba – whilst Tom Hollander’s performance of The Mole brings much of the comic relief for the character; his endless search for cake defies the logic of why a mole would know or care what cake was; but the sense of wonder and story that the film captures you don’t really care.
It’s hard not to be swept up in the quest for adventure and it’s capable of drawing real, honest tears – turning viewers into blubbering messes. The animation is spectacularly flawless – the scenes where the boy and the mole are riding the horse are among the more spectacularly crafted work of the year, and you can really see the thought and care that has been put into this from the start. The ink style is perfectly drawn utilising Charlie Mackesy’s book – and it just feels like such a welcome treasure trove of an animation that is sure to become a Christmas staple.
Don’t miss it, I could think of a lot worse ways to spend your time than 32 minutes of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. For earnestness and importance alone, the highest rating possible.