When Marnie Was There

"Very Good"

When Marnie Was There Review


Japan's Studio Gibli has been responsible for some of the finest animated movies in recent decades, from 2003's Oscar-winning Spirited Away to last year's beautiful The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Now adapted by Disney with a starry Western voice cast, their films are reaching a wider audience. And this remarkably moving drama shows how complex an animated movie should be, skilfully grappling with grown-up themes through a child's perspective.

The story comes from the Joan G. Robinson novel about Anna (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld in the English-language version), a 12-year-old who lives in Sapporo with her foster mother Yoriko (Geena Davis). But Anna isn't like the other giggly girls at school, and after an asthma attack, she moves to the countryside to live with Aunt Setsu and Uncle Kiyomasa (Grey Griffin and John C. Reilly). They give her plenty of space to explore the area, and when she spots an abandoned seaside mansion, she is unexpectedly drawn to it, befriending Marnie (Kiernan Skipka), the free-spirited girl who lives there. Anna understands that Marnie is an imaginary friend, then is surprised to find Marnie's diary hidden behind a bookshelf in the rambling house.

The twisty plot incorporates a range of elements that keep the audience off-balance: Is this a ghost story? Is Anna mentally unstable because of her difficult background? But the film is much deeper than that, and as Anna takes a fiercely original journey to self-discovery, the film touches on all kinds of resonant themes. For example, Anna struggles with her self-image, never believing that she's a talented artist, although she clearly is. This has left her feeling like no one else likes her either. So it's both fascinating and moving to watch her blossoming relationships with both the young girl Sayaka (Ava Acres) and the older woman Hisako (Vanessa Williams) who paints by the seaside. Both offer emotional insight into Anna's story.

Studio Gibli crafts its animation in a deceptively simple style, with seemingly plain-faced characters and sumptuously painted backdrops, but the artistry captures thoughts and moods with uncanny accuracy, and the imagery looks far more dazzling than digital 3D. As a result, director-cowriter Hiromasa Yonebayashi finds remarkable ways to evoke a powerful sense of Anna's youthful yearning. The film's style may seem a bit slow and simple to younger audiences looking for something fast and silly, but adults and older teens, especially anyone who felt like an outsider, will find this story packed with meaning as they are encouraged to explore how their upbringing has had an impact on everything they are today.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for When Marnie Was There:



When Marnie Was There

Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 19th July 2014

Box Office Worldwide: $561.1 thousand

Distributed by: GKIDS

Production compaines: Studio Ghibli, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, KDDI Corporation, Nippon Television Network (NTV), Mitsubishi Motors Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 65 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Producer: Yoshiaki Nishimura

Starring: Sara Takatsuki as Anna Sasaki (voice), Kasumi Arimura as Marnie (voice), as Yoriko Sasaki (voice), as Kiyomasa Oiwa (voice), as Setsu Oiwa (voice), Ryôko Moriyama as Elderly Lady (voice), as Nanny (voice), as Hisako (voice), Hiroyuki Morisaki as Art Teacher (voice), Takuma Otoo as Neighborhood Association Officer (voice), Hana Sugisaki as Sayaka (voice), Bari Suzuki as Elderly Lady 2 (voice), Shigeyuki Totsugi as Marnie's Father (voice), Ken Yasuda as Toichi (voice), Yo Oizumi as Dr. Yamashita (voice)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.