Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ANI-MOVIES, *When Marnie Was There

Before Studio Ghibli went on a short break to reconfigure their production company, they completed this fine film clearly carrying on the style and tradition of their former head, Hayao Miyazaki. Based on the novel by Joan Robinson, When Marnie Was There repositions the original story from England to Japan, which also carries on the tradition of a youngster finding something otherworldly after moving to a more rural area.

Anna is a pre-teen girl with some hidden anxieties and a lack of self-esteem. After suffering from what seems to be an asthma attack, her adopted mother sends Anna to some relatives of hers in the country to recover. While there, Anna discovers a seemingly abandoned mansion near the beach, and meets a mysterious blonde girl named Marnie who she immediately bonds with. While their friendship continues, Anna learns more about Marnie's sophisticated family, although Marnie seems to miss her parents when they are away, and says she is tormented by the maids and housekeepers. Anna begins to come more out of her shell as a person during this, but Marnie and everyone at the mansion move away overnight, with a new younger girl named Sayaka moving in with her family. Sayaka and Anna become friends, but mostly at first because Sayaka mistakes Anna for being Marnie, the girl she read about in a diary left in new room. One more meeting with Marnie has Anna questioning her existence more as Marnie keeps confusing her with someone else. Marnie disappears again, but a little digging from Sayaka finding the rest of Marnie's diary and a talk with an elderly artist reveals the rest of Marnie's existence to Anna.

I won't spoil how the movie ends, suffice to say it ends the possibility of any of the obvious shipping bait that the story seemed to be setting. The hand-drawn animation really takes you back to Ghibli's glory days, and makes the film as compelling as their previous production of The Tale Of Princess Kaguya. As per usual, it was nominated for an Oscar, mostly due to the great direction of Hiromasa Yonebayashi. The film oddly enough wasn't released through Disney, but GKids who handle a lot of other all-ages foreign releases. Definitely give this heartwarming tale a look, and the kids should love it too!

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