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Pete's Dragon Review - Vanity Fair

VF: The most moving scene in Pete’s Dragon, David Lowery’s exquisite and indeed very moving new children’s film, is a small one: Bryce Dallas Howard, playing a park ranger who’s discovered a near-feral boy (Oakes Fegley) living in the forests of Washington state, gently shakes the boy, Pete, awake. That’s all. A scene that would normally be skipped entirely, the movie jumping from the night before right to the alert morning after, is staged with such delicacy that it breaks the heart, in its tender and quiet and tiny way. The camera hovers benevolently as the ranger, fittingly named Grace, pulls Pete out of the spell of sleep and eases him, with soft voices, into the waking world. She doesn’t want to startle or scare this fragile child, but she hopes to coax some trust out of him, to reassure him that he is safe. It’s a simple (and huge) journey between states of being and consciousness—a journey that all parents, or at least the good ones, carefully and mindfully guide their own children through—that Lowery films with reverence and understanding. The scene serves as an apt summary of the whole of Pete’s Dragon, a film of uncommon warmth, decency, and humanity.

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