We Should Talk About Encanto’s Bruno Madrigal
There is always at least one character in a film who is the sweet baby angel you want to protect. In Encanto, we get a whole family full of them. Everyone will have their favorite, but mine is Bruno Madrigal.
**Spoilers for Encanto, streaming now on Disney+.**
Encanto tells the story of the amazing, magical Madrigal family and my beautiful daughter Mirabel. Fifty years ago, Alma Madrigal and her husband Pedro were forced, due to armed conflict, to flee their home with their triples—Julieta, Pepa, and Bruno.
Pedro was killed, but in Alma’s grief and with his sacrifice, a miracle happed with a magical candle that protected Alma and the rest of the people fleeing. It created a new magical, sentient house, the “Casita.” In the decades that followed under the candle’s protection, a village has been created and has thrived. Each of the Madrigal family members has a “gift” that is used to help the community.
The oldest Madrigal triplet is Bruno, who has the ability to see into the future, but due to the fact that his prophecies are not always positive, he is seen as a blight and ostracized by the village and his family.
The song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” explains that the big breaking point for many was during Pepa’s wedding. Pepa has the ability to control the weather with her emotions. Bruno made a quip that “it looks like rain” and it “floods Pepa’s brain”—leading to a “wedding in a hurricane.” (Can you tell I really like this song?)
Bruno finally vanishes after Mirabel’s failed gift ceremony. Mirabel isn’t given a gift, and Bruno decides to try to see why. He gets a prophecy of the casita being cracked, with Miarbel in the middle. However, the vision is fluid and can be changed.
As that becomes the new goal, we get more insight into the generational trauma and perfectionism that has plagued the family. Bruno is living in the walls of the casita, living on scraps because he doesn’t want to “hurt the family.”
Contributor Kate Sánchez wrote a fantastic piece about this subject with more of a focus on Mirabel, so I want to talk about Bruno (no-no-no).
Bruno’s situation is so painfully tragic, and John Leguizamo does a great job in the role. He is friends with rats, and sitting adjacent to his family’s dining room trying to keep close to them while staying away on purpose. Despite being framed as a troublemaker, everything he does is for the betterment of his loved ones.
Yet, he is different, less glamorous. It really hurt to realize just how deeply he’d been neglected by his family.
There are Brunos in a lot of families—depressed outsiders who love their family, but feel like their presence does more harm than good. That can be especially true for LBGTQ folks who are forced to perform societal norms for family occasions, rather than be embraced.
This verse by Dolores Madrigal, who can hear sounds from far away, sums it up quite well:
It’s a heavy lift with a gift so humbling
Always left Abuela and the family fumbling
Grappling with prophecies they couldn’t understand
When Bruno returns, his sisters are so happy to see him. His mother kisses him, and Bruno explains that he was just teasing his sister.
Pepa, I’m sorry ’bout your wedding, didn’t mean to be upsetting
That wasn’t a prophecy, I could just see you were sweating
And I wanted you to know that your bro loves you so
Let it in, let it out, let it rain, let it snow, let it go
Bruno was the part of the family that embraced the difference. His isolation and the treatment of Mirabel only increased the emotional cracks. Because when we treat the family weirdo like a pariah for no other sin than being a little bit different, we sever the very bonds of family that we’re trying to protect.
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