The final release from legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli before its hiatus, When Marnie Was There – by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the director of Arrietty, – is a suitably nostalgic and overwhelmingly moving story, as well as another superb artistic achievement. Anna, a young girl and keen artist, is sent to live with relatives on the coast to recover from an illness. Out walking one day, she meets and befriends Marnie, who lives in an old mansion. Sometimes this strange house looks new, clean and full of guests; but at other times it’s empty and dilapidated. Which is real? Why are Anna’s dreams being invaded? And what is Marnie’s secret?
With all the gentle, highly imaginative narrative complexity and visual grace that’s made the studio’s reputation, this is a beautiful, elegiac drama and a fitting tribute to Ghibli’s filmography.
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