Arrietty (U)

Film

Family films

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jul 26 2011

My unflagging adoration for the output of Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli has now reached the (crisis?) point where even if they produced a shot-for-shot remake of ‘Howard the Duck’, a rave would not be out of the question. But all prejudices aside, ‘Arrietty’, the company’s latest offering, is a thing of wonder. A deceptively weightless retelling of Mary Norton’s ‘The Borrowers’ scripted by the studio’s elder sage, Hayao Miyazaki, ‘Arrietty’ is another Ghibli title that brings all the lustrous, bucolic splendour of a summer’s day to the screen but with admirable Eastern reserve.

With films like ‘Ponyo’, ‘Tales from Earthsea’ and ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, the studio’s recent output has largely hinged on sumptuous, surreal Euro fantasy, but ‘Arrietty’ falls into a slightly different category. It’s almost a piece of romantic social realism, an animated feature that largely eschews the expressionist flights of fancy expected of the medium and whose focus on character and emotional nuance means that in many respects it operates on the same level as a live-action drama. It’s terrain that Ghibli has navigated before with films such as 1988’s child’s-eye war survival movie, ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ and 1995’s sublime ‘Whisper of the Heart’, about a schoolgirl (and John Denver fanatic) who wants to become a songwriter.

Here, the action is confined to a country house and its tranquil environs. Sho is the bookish teenager who arrives at the house for a period of convalescence prior to a life-threatening operation. He’s barely reached the front door before he spies Arrietty, one of the fabled ‘little people’, sliding down a vine and dashing back into the undergrowth. The film then pursues Arrietty back to her tiny underfloor abode where she happily resides with her nervy but loving mother and strangely taciturn father. On this occasion, Arrietty is to accompany her father on a borrowing mission, where the pair sneak into the main house and pinch a few household staples that won’t be missed. Buttons, yarn and paperclips become improvised mountaineering gear in a thrilling early action sequence, executed in near-silence and with immaculate attention to detail. It’s not long before Sho sees Arrietty and strikes up a relationship. Sho’s nursemaid, meanwhile, is calling in the exterminators and Arrietty’s petrified parents are looking to shape up and ship out.

Whether very young viewers will warm to the delicate, humane drama at the centre of ‘Arrietty’ is questionable, but you can hardly fault the film for that. There are some scenes where the narrative almost grinds to a halt, inviting you to consider the ornate beauty invested in objects like a hand-crafted dolls’ house before things get moving again. While there is plenty of action, the film’s strain of melancholy cuts deepest: this quasi-amorous adventure could even be interpreted as the gravely ill Sho’s final memories of life.

The movie also addresses the difficulties of living with a physical disadvantage, and how the able-bodied can sometimes exert their dominance. It’s also about the simple tragedy of having to say goodbye to a friend. But most of all, ‘Arrietty’ is a gorgeous, rounded piece of craft, where the subtle, almost tactile textures of the characters and backdrops allow you to appreciate this moving, whimsical tale as if it were real.
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Release details

Rated:

U

UK release:

Fri Jul 29, 2011

Duration:

94 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Screenwriter:

Hayao Miyazaki

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
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  • 3 star:1
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  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|11
1 person listening
June

My grandson aged three and five were both transfixed by this stunning and incredibly moving film. I didn't realise I'd booked the Japanese subtitled version, which I would not have deliberately risked taking non readers to but I only had to whisper from time to time to fill them in on essentia lines of dialogue that they were missing and if anything it seemed to make the boys concentrate more fully on the beauty of the animation and the subtle relationships and characterisation. I couldn't recommend this film more highly and now feel the dubbed version, which I will take them to if I can, will seem coarse by comparison.

June

My grandson aged three and five were both transfixed by this stunning and incredibly moving film. I didn't realise I'd booked the Japanese subtitled version, which I would not have deliberately risked taking non readers to but I only had to whisper from time to time to fill them in on essentia lines of dialogue that they were missing and if anything it seemed to make the boys concentrate more fully on the beauty of the animation and the subtle relationships and characterisation. I couldn't recommend this film more highly and now feel the dubbed version, which I will take them to if I can, will seem coarse by comparison.

gary

its suitable for 3 to 4 yr olds, even though the majority of the audience were adults there were a lot of young kids in the audience tranfixed by the film

gary

its suitable for 3 to 4 yr olds, even though the majority of the audience were adults there were a lot of young kids in the audience tranfixed by the film

Gary

I couldn't believe the sheer beauty of this film, it was overwhelming. I am an animator myself and I know this film achieves heights it can only surpass itself. the film had an innocent, simple beauty to it, I have always marvelled at Hiyao Miyazakis cartoons since the day I first saw Laputa: castle in the sky and then seeing it re-appear after a twenty year dissapearence. I love nausicca, totoro, ponyo, spirited away, princess mononoke and howl. but the rain storm in this movie is a scene of absolute sublime beauty unsurpassable in my mind. I went to the one o'clock showing with my son and the cinema was full of adults. this deserves an oscar even more than spirited away. I'm not one to gush with praise over a film, just the opposite, I'm quite cynical but I can't help it. and I had low expectations for this movie because ghibhlis forays are usually grand landscapes and mythical worlds. here I am marvelling at the rain in someones garden. no amount of hollywood fxs could come close

Gary

I couldn't believe the sheer beauty of this film, it was overwhelming. I am an animator myself and I know this film achieves heights it can only surpass itself. the film had an innocent, simple beauty to it, I have always marvelled at Hiyao Miyazakis cartoons since the day I first saw Laputa: castle in the sky and then seeing it re-appear after a twenty year dissapearence. I love nausicca, totoro, ponyo, spirited away, princess mononoke and howl. but the rain storm in this movie is a scene of absolute sublime beauty unsurpassable in my mind. I went to the one o'clock showing with my son and the cinema was full of adults. this deserves an oscar even more than spirited away. I'm not one to gush with praise over a film, just the opposite, I'm quite cynical but I can't help it. and I had low expectations for this movie because ghibhlis forays are usually grand landscapes and mythical worlds. here I am marvelling at the rain in someones garden. no amount of hollywood fxs could come close

barbara

saw this film on tuesday when in essex and am still marvelling at its sublime beauty! there are 5stars but it deserves 10! honestly, it is a little diamond of a movie. i cried, and i think my two sons did also although they would vigorously deny having done so! but i saw them :) the art work and animation is the equal of the inimitable 'SPIRITED AWAY', the storyline is 'edge of the seat' at times and the ending is...well, haunting yet uplifting. beautiful experience and i cannot wait to take my little grandson to see it when it screens here. perfect!

barbara

saw this film on tuesday when in essex and am still marvelling at its sublime beauty! there are 5stars but it deserves 10! honestly, it is a little diamond of a movie. i cried, and i think my two sons did also although they would vigorously deny having done so! but i saw them :) the art work and animation is the equal of the inimitable 'SPIRITED AWAY', the storyline is 'edge of the seat' at times and the ending is...well, haunting yet uplifting. beautiful experience and i cannot wait to take my little grandson to see it when it screens here. perfect!

Tony82

This beautiful and touching movie that is the latest from Studio Ghibli is sheer wonder and beauty, the likes of which can never be achieved by Pixar or Hollywood, the wonderful colours, backdrops and the sound make it an unforgettable tale. The sound design is nothing short of groundbreaking, where scenes of Arrietty and her father entering the kitchen are made to feel like your in a massive cavern/dome and the slightest noise that we would not normal hear can be heard in crystal clarity, and then theres the wonderful rain storm scene. Anyone who can say they enjoyed this film but then only give it 3 stars is insane, this movie is proof positive once again that anything disney/pixar can do, ghibli can do better, and they deserve another oscar nod for this one in my humble opinion. From a Ghibli fan, who has been watching their movies in the UK since I was 5

Tony82

This beautiful and touching movie that is the latest from Studio Ghibli is sheer wonder and beauty, the likes of which can never be achieved by Pixar or Hollywood, the wonderful colours, backdrops and the sound make it an unforgettable tale. The sound design is nothing short of groundbreaking, where scenes of Arrietty and her father entering the kitchen are made to feel like your in a massive cavern/dome and the slightest noise that we would not normal hear can be heard in crystal clarity, and then theres the wonderful rain storm scene. Anyone who can say they enjoyed this film but then only give it 3 stars is insane, this movie is proof positive once again that anything disney/pixar can do, ghibli can do better, and they deserve another oscar nod for this one in my humble opinion. From a Ghibli fan, who has been watching their movies in the UK since I was 5

kerry

...this was the perfect escape from reality on a humid, hunted-by-stuff-to-do summer afternoon. Visually, the film gently unrolls itself before your eyes in the way that hand-drawn animation can, and the characters and narrative gathers you up and carries you away for an hour or so. I lived in semi-rural Japan for a couple of years and found the setting shamelessly nostalgic - the overgrown country house with the barely-distant town, and of course the summer rain. This is a reason to go to the film too. As a primary teacher, I can imagine it being a bit placid for many children, but for an adult wanting an intro to the whole Ghibli 'thing' it's an absolute treat. The audience I shared the experience with were all 18+ at a 3.15pm screening.