Friday, 29 March 2013

Arrietty

Kari-gurashi no Arietti; animated fantasy drama, Japan, 2010; D: Hiromasa Yonebayashi, S: Mirai Shida, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Shinobu Otake

Sho is a teenage boy who suffers from a heart disease and awaits a surgery. He is brought to stay with his aunt in a secluded house in nature. However, there he meets "Borrower" Arrietty, a dwarf human as big as a thumb, who secretly lives underground with her mother and father. The "Borrowers" are very suspicious of humans, whereas Sho and Arrietty's relationship is strained by the maid who wants to capture the "Borrowers" with the help of pest control. Still, Sho and Arrietty become friends and she says farewell when her family moves out to find a new place where no human knows of them.

Even though the script was written by Hayao Miyazaki, "Arrietty" is among studio Ghibli's 'lesser' anime films, not achieving a real momentum like movies from their golden age from the 80s and 90s, which are unassuming classics ("Kiki's Delivery Service", "Only Yesterday"). "Arrietty" is not more than a footnote in Ghibli's opus, yet is overall still a good and proportionally fairy talish achievement that here and there manages to conjure up a moment of "calm awe" typical for Miyazaki, like the sequence where the hero Sho defends himself from a crow with one hand while gently defending and shielding 'Thumbelina' heroine Arrietty with his other hand, or the moment where Arrietty and her father have an elaborated entrance into the bedroom to get a handkerchief at night, but then she figures Sho has been quietly observing them the whole time from his bed. The animation is fluent, the music opulent whereas the story has a remarkably calm, minimalistic mood reminiscent of Ozu, yet some ideas are slightly questionable, especially the inappropriate existential subplot for the younger audience revolving around the "Borrowers" dying out, showing that not everything can be re-arranged to fit into any given genre.

Grade;++

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