When Marnie Was There
Out Now On-Demand
Studio Ghibli animated drama based on the novel by Joan G Robinson and directed by Hiroasa Yonebayashi, following up his 2010 directorial debut Arrietty. Rumoured to be the studio's last production.
When isolated Anna spends the summer in a sleepy town by the sea, away from her foster home, she encounters Marnie, a non-judgemental girl who befriends her. Anna grows to treasure and adore this newfound friendship, but it appears Marnie is connected to her in ways she may not realise…
Animated, Kids & Family
Studio Ghibli scales down the flights of fancy for this humble drama about a quiet, secluded pre-teen girl carrying a heap of emotional baggage. In typical Ghibli fashion, the fantasy elements are based in vagueness, used to illustrate the vitality of friendship. But the film isn’t just about being there for someone; it reflects on the importance of having been there. When it nails that point home, it nails its place as yet another affectionate Ghibli film.
Entertainment Weekly (USA)
Time Out New York
"There’s inside and outside…These people are inside……I’m outside" - Anna
When Marnie was There is unfortunately Studio Ghibli’s last film until they take a break. Studio Ghibli produced animated classics such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. This film, however didn’t have Hayao Miyzaki’s involvement in it.
Anna is a socially distant girl living in the city. However, due to an asthma attack, she was asked to live in the countryside for a while. Whilst exploring the place she stumbles into an abandoned mansion. Drawn by the mansion she kept coming back despite being asked to stay away. In the process, Anna befriends another girl, Marnie, which may or may not be real.
This film is gorgeous, the artwork is amazing and it’s beautiful to look at. Just like other Studio Ghibli productions, the animation is superb. There’s a clear separation of the 2-D background and the animated foreground, however you can pause the movie at any scene, you will have an absolutely beautiful still.
Another great part of the movie is the overall score, the score is incredibly well-done. It’s lovely to listen to and it complement the characters’s actions quite well. From Anna’s exploration’s to her happy and sad moments, the accompanying music fits and it does help make you empathize for the character.
The most surprising part of the movie is the story. One might think it’s just a story between two friends, however there is more to it than that. It’s very mature and I feel a lot of adults can relate to. The burden that Anna carries is incredibly heavy and you feel the weight upon her revelation.
There’s only one thing that might bother audiences is the story telling on the third act, on the climax in particular. Where it felt as if the film’s about to have a big reveal. However, it didn’t go that route but it does leave you confused on to what is really happening. The ending does clear it up nicely, however it almost felt unnecessary to have the climactic scene.
When Marnie was There is a visually appealing movie, with great art design. the 2-D background and animation is gorgeous and the accompanying music works well with it. It tells an emotional story with very adult themes and it tells it well. With very minor issues this film is not their best work but it is still worth your time specially if you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli.
My first film from Yonebayashi was Spirited Away which my then young teenage daughter got me to watch with her, and now as a young adult she organised me once again to see When Marnie Was There, I am hooked once again and was captivated from the very first scene, the animation style was just perfect loved the detailed scenery and the story line slowly unfolding till the very end, the real like characters, no matter what age you are, its about appreciating creative talent in all who put these types of feature films together.