Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Moments of subtle, heart-stopping emotional grace and power elevate When Marnie Was There, an attractive anime that is otherwise a tad underwhelming. Yonebayashi Hiromasa has a delicate touch; he puts this to effective use in his direction, and the film has a particularly expressive aesthetic as a result. It risks expressing too much, in fact, as early developments appear to promise either much more or something much different to what the plot actually provides. Never mind, the film eventually acquires a depth of feeling that it has wholeheartedly earnt. As is (or ought to be) the norm for Studio Ghibli productions, When Marnie Was There is a rather wondrous experience, very much in its own way: we escape alongside the protagonist, quickly settling into the pastoral rhythm and tones, and soon seduced by the lure of a fantasy that Yonebayashi smartly avoids establishing too solidly as imaginary. For those who care, it's not imaginary, and if you care too you'll reap the rewards of investing in a story that comes to resolve itself in the most satisfactory of ways. Yonebayashi emphasises the fragility in his characters' designs - they thus seem to integrate into their environment without effort, and the film is quintessentially Japanese in its understanding of humanity's position within its natural surroundings. The musical score is complementary, if slightly unremarkable; similar could be said of the film itself, but its success in its scheme marks When Marnie Was There as too great an artistic achievement to be dismissed in such terms.