“When Marnie Was There” is yet another movie produced produced by Studio Ghibli.
Although I am not overly familiar with the studio or its productions like many people who had gone to view the movie (this is the third Ghibli movie I’ve seen), it is very clear that they never seem to falter when it comes to creating a visually stunning animated movie. It is beautiful in the physical aspect but stumbles a bit with its storytelling and character development, but it still holds up well to the expectations audiences would come to have from the studio.
The story this time revolves around a young girl named Anna, in contrast to what some would believe from the film’s title, and the internal struggle within herself. After a sudden asthma attack, Anna is sent to the country side by her mother to be looked after by her friends in hopes that the clean air will help with both her physical health and her personal struggle. For the most part, the plot of the movie is simple and straightforward in terms of its concept, but in its execution it becomes a little bit confusing and leaves some questions unanswered by the time the credits have rolled. Anna’s character is rather timid and introverted, keeping her thoughts to herself and only expressing them on a few occasions though mostly as whispers under her own breathe. Things start to pick up once Anna runs into the mysterious “ghost girl” (as described in the synopsis), Marnie, and with her introduction the movie’s direction becomes more clear and put into focus. There is a plot twist in this movie as the audience will most likely believe they have figured out within mere minutes after Marnie’s introduction, but the real twist is something entirely different and comes out of nowhere at the end of the movie.
As I stated earlier, the animation is incredibly beautiful and detailed, and even looks like a painting at some points. The scenery is so relaxing that it had me sleepy, in a good way. Grass and hair are beautifully animated as a breeze rolls by, and the water always moves fluidly. It just proves that the production values are high enough to instill the same feeling I would have experienced if I had viewed the scenery myself.
When it comes to the progression of Anna’s character, she remains relatively the same and only begins any kind of change until a good amount of the movie has passed. Up until then, the movie tends to spend a little bit more time than needed trying to establish what kind of personality Anna has, and then proceeds to have her explain everything in a scene fairly late in the movie, proving (or disproving) whatever guesses the viewer had formed by then. I feel that this explanation could have been done better simply by showing rather telling all at once with just a few hints here and there. It is only at that scene where Anna explains herself that I began to feel any kind of real connection with her, despite being able to understand her character early on in the movie. As a result of this, the pacing is rather slow, but I understand that perhaps the director wanted to take the time to perhaps help Anna express herself in a few situations before fully going into her progression. Marnie herself is just as established as Anna when she is first introduced, but she also becomes victim to the “tell all instead of see all” plot progression that occurs with latter. Seeing as these two girls as are the focus of the movie, almost everyone else takes a back seat and remain the same throughout the movie. Luckily, characters without relevance or any character progression do not take up much of the movie’s run time.
In the end, I’ll say that “When Marnie Was There” is a beautiful movie, with a beautiful concept and focus on the struggles of one person and how they overcome those insecurities. However, slow pacing and confusing execution bring it down a little bit, but all in all I will still say that it is a solid movie that is worth the watch, perhaps more if you are intent on trying to find the answers to questions that may not be answered the first time through.