Arrietty Movie Review

Based on Mary Norton's classic novel The Borrowers, this film features striking animation and a story that's rich, detailed and full of vividly engaging characters. And it refreshingly refuses to play by Hollywood rules about narrative.

When the sickly young Sho (voiced by Kamiki) goes to live with his aunt (Takeshita) in the country, he spots a tiny girl in the garden, just like his mother remembered seeing when she was young. But housekeeper Haru (Kiki) denies they exist. Indeed, the girl was Arrietty (Shida), who lives with her parents (Miura and Ohtake) in a small home under the floor full of things that are borrowed unnoticed from the house above. But being seen has consequences, and even though Sho is clearly friendly, Arrietty's world is about to change.

While keeping character design recognisably their own, Studio Ghibli inventively enriches the imagery with lush shadows and textures. Frankly, you don't need 3D gimmickry when the sounds and images are this vivid. Scenes feel so deep we want to fall into them. Clever visual touches fill each setting, most notably in Arrietty's family home, which is made up of gigantic borrowed items. And perspective is so carefully developed that we feel the comparative sizes in ways that are literally breathtaking, including freaky scenes involving enormous rats, insects or a manic crow.

Not only does this capture the scary, vertiginous feeling of being a tiny person in an oversized world, but it also beautifully imagines the feeling of reading the book: wishing we had tiny people in our own home to befriend and help in some way. Sho and Arrietty's friendship is warm and involving. And alongside this, Sho's hilariously grumpy cat and the deranged Haru add wonderful comical counterpoints. Thankfully, neither becomes the villain they'd be in an American movie of this same story.

Along the way, the film is packed with thrilling set pieces as Arietty and her dad navigate the dangers of the world around them, and then as Arrietty befriends Sho and things take some startling turns. As the story develops, there are also pointed comments on endangered species as well as the delicate irony of the fact that even humans who try to help can't actually do much. This is very subtle, but it adds a resonance to the film that makes it timeless.

Cast & Crew

Director : Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Producer :

Starring : Mirai Shida, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Shinobu Ohtake, Tomokazu Miura, , Keiko Takeshita, , Shin'ichi Hatori [English version: Saoirse Ronan, , , , , American version: Bridgit Mendler, , , ,

Comments

Arrietty Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: U, 2010

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