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When Marnie Was There


Stars: Voices (Japanese version: Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanako Matsushima, Susumu Terajima, Toshie Negishi, Ryoko Moriyama, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Hitomi Kuroki

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

Now that computer-created animation dominates cinema, Studio Ghibli’s atmospheric, hand-animated and, reportedly, final film for a while, is a true visual pleasure.

Intriguingly, in adapting English author Joan G Robinson’s original novel for the screen director Hiromasa Yonebayashi has shifted the action from Norfolk to Japan where emotionally-troubled, tomboyish but asthma-prone adolescent Marnie is failing to fit in with her fellow school students in Tokyo.

Her life changes when she is sent to live with relatives on rural Hokkeido island where, free to roam in the countryside, she discovers a mysterious waterside mansion where she meets, befriends and becomes fixated on the young girl living there.

But soon she begins to wonder where her newfound friend is really what she appears to be…

Yonebayashi endows his story with a genuine warmth and character-driven truth that gives the fate of his (beautifully animated) characters unaffected reality, which is something I have found to be relatively rare in animated movies, and he never allows the animation to overpower character or narrative.

Alan Frank

Japan 2014. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour.
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 04 Oct 2016

DVD review