Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whisper of the Heart

Whisper of the Heart is a film by Studio Ghibli, the animation company owned by Hayao Miyazaki, the director of 9 or 10 masterpieces, but best known over here for Spirited Away. Miyazaki didn't direct Whisper of the Heart, though it bears many of his trademarks. The director was Yoshifumi Kondo, who worked with Miyazaki on everything Studio Ghibli did from its inception to his death in the late 90's.

When I bought this DVD last week, the cover featured a picture of a girl on a porch, with a boy leaning out of a window talking with her. The back cover featured the girl flying through the sky with a cat dressed in a tuxedo and wearing a top hat. I wondered why the front cover was so mundane, and why Disney would want to sell the movie with that, rather than a crazy fantasy with well dressed flying cats.

Turns out that was a good move. Whisper of the Heart isn't a fantasy. It's set in the real world, and contains only a couple imaginary minutes of flying cats. It's a coming of age story about a girl of 13 or 14 finding herself.

Though not a fantasy, fantastic elements sneak their way into the story. The girl even observes when something happens is like it's from one of the books she reads. Nothing magic happens in the movie, but it's plenty magical. There's a wonderful scene where the girl sings the John Denver song "Country Road" accompanied by the boy she's falling for on violin.

Sorry this review was kind of lame. It was one of those movies I did really like, but didn't really have much to say about it. Whisper of the Heart is a nice, uplifting movie, and it's probably something an open-minded kid of 10 or 11 would like. Adults should like it too. A-

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