I assumed that Studio Ghibli had gotten all their spooky antics out of their system with the amazing Spirited Away. But it turns out that one of the last films the studio made was a supernatural puzzler… but you know, for families. I was just as surprised as you were. Could a studio long known for their family fare actually pull off a movie that has more in common with Vertigo than Kiki’s Delivery Service?
Anna Sasaki (Hailee Steinfeld) is at a rough age. She feels awkward and misunderstood at school. Her home life became difficult after she made an unwelcome discovery. It caused her pull away from her foster mother. After suffering a stress induced asthma attack, Anna is sent to the coast to live with her aunt and uncle. At first things don’t go much better, as Anna’s discomfort around strangers causes her to snap at the people around her.
But things change when she spots a strange mansion on the coast that is accessible only at low tide, but requires a boat to visit otherwise. Anna finds herself returning to the place again and again to sketch it and peer into the abandoned interiors. But one night she sees a young blonde girl inside the house. She eventually meets the girl, Marnie (Kiernan Shipka) who is the same age and also going through some tough issues at home. Anna is drawn to her new friend; despite the fact that no one else acknowledges Marnie or the parties her parents throw. And why is everyone in the old mansion dressed in 1920s fashions? Is Anna suffering a mental breakdown, or is she looking into the past, at a time When Marnie was There?
- Some wonderful animation immerses viewers in the setting and atmosphere
- Effective performances by the English voice cast
- Keeps the viewer’s wondering just what is happening to Anna, and the mystery of Marnie
- Moves at a very measured pace
- Looking for an outright thriller? Not in this film.
- Why is this animated?
I was impressed by how well this film works. Anna is a very relatable character, even if she can be difficult. The more we find out about her, the more we understand her reactions to others and especially to Marnie. The film does a good job of never giving away too much about Marnie until the right moment. An easy recommendation if you are looking for a coming of age film meshed with a psychological mystery.
Scores(out of 5)
In Depth Review
|For Anna it is easier to focus on her sketches and ignore people.|
|Anna arrives at her new home in the coastal town.|
|Anna's first glimpse of the mysterious house where Marnie awaits.|
|Meeting Marnie by moonlight.|
|Looks like someone is ready to party!|
|"Come play with me Anna..."|
Where When Marnie Was There really shines is in the execution of the story and the character of Anna. The film has three parts. The first establishes Anna and her life in the city. The second brings her to the coastal town and into contact with Marnie. The third comprises Anna’s attempt to figure out who Marnie is and the impact it has on Anna’s life. Each portion of the story must be told completely and well for the ending to have the necessary emotional impact.
|Visiting the house later, Anna sees that it is a real fixer-upper opportunity.|
|Marnie marvels at the meticulous sketch.|
|A stormy night in a dangerous tower, what could go wrong?|
|A lot could go wrong.|
|Anna and her new pal are ready for some sleuthing.|
|Marnie takes us on a little voyage to her home.|
|Is Anna sketching her new friend... or something else entirely?|
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