Movie Review – When Marnie Was There (2015)


Movie Synopsis:

Anna is a girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in with the kids around her, and who is developing pre-teen angst due to a variety of issues.  Her foster parents decide to send her out to the country for time with laid back relatives, hoping the change of scenery and the fresh air of small town life will help.  As Anna explores her immediate surroundings, and thinks about her own life and how she fits into the world, she comes across a girl names Marnie who lives in a run down home across the water.  However, events unfold which question who Marnie is, and how she may be connected to Anna.

Movie Review:

This latest film is yet another fantastic success by the talented team at Studio Ghibli.  From the animation, to the writing of characters and themes, to the direction, everything comes together to create a moving and emotionally powerful film for all ages.

The characters of Anna and Marnie are developed perfectly by the writing team.  The thoughtfulness with which they develop these two characters, and the decision to make these characters complex and imperfect, creates an excellent and relatable set of characters that we care about.  The overall plot and storyline is an interesting combination of light supernatural and ghostly ideas combined with more obvious current day issues affecting young people today, including body image, bullying, and kids in foster care.  Although the story does seem to go a little bit slow in parts, this seems to be a conscious decision to focus more on the thematic elements and take time building suspense and drama, which for the most part works.

As with all Studio Ghibli films, the animation in the film is perfect, creating a visual feast of landscape as well as showing us emotions of the characters.  This film does a great job of showing us that Studio Ghibli does a wonderful job even when there are very few animals or creatures in the story.

The music is beautiful and complements the emotions behind the characters and the plot as it moves forward.

Overall, this is a powerful, moving, and enjoyable film, which one thinks about and reflects on long after the credits scroll through.

Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.