When Marnie Was There is a 2014 Studio Ghibli movie. This was brought to us by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and it was his second time directing a movie for the studio after, The Secret World of Arrietty. Although, he had been a part of many major Studio Ghibli movies before this such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo to name a few.
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The Movie Review
I remember being lucky enough to see this at my theatre many, many years ago. I always liked to try and see a new Studio Ghibli movie in the theatre when I had the chance, but my local theatre did not always get every Studio Ghibli release so I was very excited when they got this. I would not put this in my top 10 Studio Ghibli movies, but it is still a good movie, one that really does tug on your heartstrings.
Our main character is a 12-year-old girl called Anna and she lives in the city with her foster parents. It is discovered that Anna has pretty bad asthma and fresh air is what the doctor recommends so she is sent to stay with her foster mother’s family in rural Japan for the summer. At first, I thought that this was going to be a coming-of-age style story, a real staple for many Studio Ghibli movies, but that is not actually the case.
Anna arrives and in exploring her new surroundings, she finds this large mansion and she discovers a young girl called Marnie. Anna and Marnie hit it off, but Marnie asks her to keep their friendship a secret. The two start to become closer and closer, but we can tell right away that there is something more going on here.
Turns out that there are other people that live in the mansion too that have just moved in. Anna makes friends with a girl called Sayaka and this is where things start to get a bit strange. Anna finds out about the family that lived there before and what happened to Marnie and how she is bullied by those that are supposed to be looking after her.
I think that the movie does a very good job of dangling little bits of information about Marnie and Anna and the relationship between these two characters. I think that once you find out, a lightbulb sort of goes off and so much more of what you saw and heard makes sense.
There are some people who say it is pretty obvious what is going down and while in hindsight, it is certainly there. I can hand on heart say that I did not see the connection the first time I watched the movie and it was a fantastic reveal and one that really does hit you in the feels.
While there is a lot of sadness in When Marnie Was There, especially when it is dealing with child abandonment. One of the things that I really liked about this was that it had a clear cut happy, positive, and hopeful ending and you felt great for Anna. There is no downer ending here, just something all nice, it is like a good reward for sitting through some of the harder scenes.
As you would expect for a Studio Ghibli, this movie looks incredible. The Japanese countryside and this rural place is somewhere I could imagine playing as a child and trying to make you feel like you have a child-like vulnerability is something I think the movie does very well.
Of course, you cannot talk about a Studio Ghibli movie without mentioning the voice cast and once again, they nailed it. Hailee Steinfeld is awesome as Anna, but it was also great hearing the likes of Catherine O Hara, Kathy Bates, John C Riley, and Geena Davis lend their voices to the movie too.
I think that When Marnie Was There is a good movie. It is a movie that I felt was going to be really sad and while parts of it are, it has a rather uplifting and positive ending that I liked. I recommend that you give this one a watch as it is not one of the more talked about Studio Ghibli movies.
- The movie really does make you care and feel sorry for Anna and Marnie
- I liked the setting of the movie
- As expected, there is a fantastic voice cast here
- I liked how even though it was rather sad, it ended on a wholesome and loving note
- I know that some people feel that the “twist” was way too obvious
- While I like this movie, it is one that loses a bit more of its impact each time you watch it