Netflix’s Nimona almost feels impossible in a day and age where LGBTQ+ content is continuously being canceled. Especially on this streaming service. But it happened. After years and years of hard work and their original studio being shut down, Nimona has finally landed and proven itself to be a visually stunning movie in the same league as movies like Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse. I said what I said. Animation is film and this project had so much love put into the animation, the story, and the beats that it hit along the way. Nimona was perfection and simply left us wanting more. Seriously, where’s our show?!
It’s a story about wanting to be seen in a world that paints you like a monster. But it’s also a story about connection and not making yourself small for other people. You should be weird and loud and bright and funny. You should be unapologetically you in all facets of your life. And personally, I can’t help but connect that to my queer identity in 2023. Because we’re told we’re monsters. But all we want to do is to chill, take care of our pets/plants, and mind our business. And it feels like the writers understood all of this because it felt like there were conscious choices in this movie that spoke of a writer’s room who understands the pain of being othered. And understanding that pain, having those people at the helm, differentiates Nimona and makes it what it is today.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into our review of Nimona!
All She Wanted Was to Be Seen
“I don’t know what’s scarier. The fact that everyone in this kingdom wants to run a sword through my heart…or that sometimes…I just wanna let ’em.”
All throughout Nimona there was an underlying sadness. It was there when the movie started and Nimona was trying to be Ballister’s henchman. And it was there when she destroyed stuff, when she laughed, and when she schemed. You could see in her eyes that all that she wanted was to be seen. And with Ballister she found what she was looking for. That’s why it hurt so much when he reached for his weapon because he was momentarily afraid of her. For her, this was seemingly confirmation that even someone who saw her would always look at her as a monster. And she was tired.
The lead-up to Nimona transforming into this hulking black beast and the intention behind it was clear from the moment she entered the city. You could tell him the way that she was lethargic and just taking those hits. She had given up and as a queer person, I felt that. Nowadays, especially in the United States, there has been a consistent and blatant attack against those in the LGBTQ+ community. We are told we shouldn’t exist and have seen laws enacted to erase us. And I could see that hate in this film in the way that Nimona was painted as a monster when all she wanted was respect, a family, and to be seen for who she truly was.
Ballister stopping her and literally touching her heart felt like a cathartic moment. A moment when somebody saw us. Someone told us it was okay to be who we are. And someone was there to comfort us in that desperate moment when we just wanted to give in and be that monster that so many say we are. This is why this movie has come at the perfect time. Because LGBTQ+ people need this. They need validation, empathy, and love. They need gentleness, humor, and a reminder that we are loved and that there is hope out there.
And personally, I feel like I’m mucking this up, my explanation on why I love this movie so much is because it left me feeling so raw. It left me feeling like this hole in my chest that I didn’t even know was there, was filled. Now it’s time to check out the book. And maybe stream the movie again. Because we deserve to see more of Nimona and Ballister. We deserve to see ourselves, all the unapologetic forms that we are, in a way that feels like it honors us. This movie did that.
The Normalization of the Gays aka Me
This movie understood the concept of normalizing LGBTQ+ experiences. Ballister and Ambrosius were an item. That’s it. No take backsies or pussy footing around it. They were in love and were the only romantic relationship in the story. And I really appreciate that Nimona went in this direction when it came to their romance. Because I understand that coming out stories are important for those that are going through the beginning stages of queer journey. But we also need stories where we are not othered. Stories where it is just part of who we are. So let’s get back to the adventure of it all.
What I especially loved about this normalization is the soft moments. At the beginning of the movie, you saw a Ballister and Ambrosius just sitting together. They were laughing, Ambrosius was comforting Ballister about what was to come, and they were cuddling. They were holding hands too! It might not seem like a big deal to straight people who have always had these moments. But as a queer person, these tiny moments are so precious because we don’t get to see them as often. Shows or movies always go for the big and grandiose moments. Those are important and all. But I want to cuddle. I want foreheads touching foreheads. And I want gentle kisses.
I truly hope that this story between Ballister and Ambrosius is the first of many. Because, despite the shit show that is the US right now and Hollywood, I hope studios notice this project and learn from it. All of this hard work, all the animation as well, couldn’t have been done with AI. And the same thing goes for the genuine love and connection between Ballister and Ambrosius. Those moments and the honesty behind them come from lived and shared experiences. And we should respect those experiences and what they bring to the table by supporting the creatives in Hollywood. Because we need more of this. We need more hope, especially for our vulnerable people within the LGBTQ+ community who feel alone and like the world is telling them that they are monsters.
We are not monsters. And the normalization of who we are and our experiences is part of bringing truth and peace to this world where no one gives a shit if we’re queer or not. Love is love. And that’s how it should be.
Family, Family, Family
I knew that as soon as that disaster child appeared on my screen with her brooding outlaw, I was going to get quality father/daughter moments. They’re both lonely and looking for a connection. They didn’t expect to find that connection with each other. But the point is that they did. And yes you could see that in grand moments like when Ballister was fighting Ambrosius and was defending Nimona. But you also saw in quiet moments when Nimona breathed fire and all Ballister did was call it metal. That soft look on Nimona’s face…I can’t get over it. That was love and peace and kindness wrapped up together. That was the feeling of family.
Personally, I love a good father/daughter story about outcasts. It’s why Pedro Pascal works in The Mandalorian and in The Last of Us. But I will admit that I would love to see more women in this position. Because right off the top of my head I can’t think of a movie where there is a woman who becomes a mother figure to someone and doesn’t want to be that. I think it has absolutely something to do with the patriarchy and how as women we “should have kids.” But sometimes, people like me, don’t want to have kids. And I would like to one day explore that dynamic in the same way that we explored this dynamic between Ballister and Nimona. Because he struggled and so did she. But they found a dynamic that worked for them and they became family.
This family dynamic of Nimona combined with her whole journey and past, and of course, the gays is the trifecta of what I love and need to see in my movies. Because all we want to do is belong. All we want is family and to be seen. Even the toughest of us want that. And Nimona was that tough one. That tough one that was hurting deep inside and covered it up with all this bravado. But she still needed that connection, support, and love. And this movie allowed her to explore it in beats that felt deserved and well thought out. If anything, I wish this movie was a show. Because with that, we can explore even more of what it means to be someone like Nimona. Because that girl/entity has serious abandonment issues. Those don’t go away so easily. And I would love to see more of her journey and how she deals with that pain with family at her side.
So if you haven’t watched Nimona yet, please do. This movie, especially on a streaming service that has historically canceled a lot of its LGBTQ+-oriented content, needs your support. And while you’re at it, make sure to pick up the comic book that this film is based on by ND Stevenson. They also deserve your support, empathy, and love. Because this was clearly an intimate story for the author. And I think all of us could learn a little bit about ourselves and Nimona’s story if we take a chance and open up our hearts to those around us.
Nimona is available on Netflix.