MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It’s quite difficult to put into words just how beautiful and stunningly animated Arrietty appears. It’s Studio Ghibli’s latest masterpiece of Japanese animation, taking Mary Norton’s story of The Borrowers and presenting it with delicate appreciation but also a real flair of creativity.
Arrietty is a 14 year old borrower, a tiny person from a tiny family of borrowers, going on her daunting first borrowing mission with her father. Borrowers take just what they need from big people, but fortunately they only need so little that no one will ever notice. Arrietty’s first encounter with a “human bean” sets off a very simple but nevertheless charming narrative as she tries to look after her family and find her small place in a world that she is only just starting to discover. Arrietty is a true little heroine and her family are instantly identifiable.
Every scene of the animation looks so captivating and vibrant. It’s like opening your favourite, most imaginative picture-book as a child and seeing it come to life for the very first time. With the opportunity to show little people entering a big world, Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi has plenty of opportunity to play with perspective, and he does it sub, mary nortontly but gracefully. The different styles of drawing layered on top of each other just fit so perfectly and produce such a distinct style. You just want to keep your eyes fixed on the screen and absorb all the colours and hope it never stops.
The wonderful score by French composer Cécile Corbel matches the visuals perfectly by bringing so much life and energy to this fairytale world. It’s equally enthralling for adults and children, although younger children may struggle to keep up with the subtitles in the Japanese version (it’s also being released in both English and American). But the story is heartwarming and the animation is gloriously escapist. Maybe occasionally the script translated into English can feel a little too sugary and one or two of its underlying messages are presented a little too plainly, but this is a sweet film. A little film, but with a big spirit.
Arrietty is out now in the UK in both English and Japanese but not until until 17th February in the US. Running time: 94 mins. Certificate U (UK).
Comments and feedback are always welcome or just give the film a rating by using the stars at the top.
Review by David Rank