Year of Release: 2014
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Screenplay: Masashi Ando, Keiko Niwa and Hiromasa Yonebashi, based on the novel When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson
Starring: Sara Takatsuki. Kasumi Arimura
Running Time: 103 minutes
Genre: drama, fantasy, animation
This animated film is an adaptation of the popular children's novel When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson, transposing the setting from 1960s Norfolk, England to modern day Japan. Anna Sasaki (Takatsuki) is an introverted 12 year old, who suffers an asthma attack at school. Her worried foster mother sends Anna to spend the summer with relatives of hers in the country, believing that the air will do Anna some good. Anna becomes fascinated by a dilapidated old mansion across the marshes, known as The Marsh House. One night Anna meets a mysterious girl called Marnie, who lives at the Marsh House. The two form a firm friendship, and Anna learns some secrets about Marnie and about herself.
This was made by Japan's legendary Studio Ghibli, and was their last film before the studio went on a hiatus following the retirement of studio head Hayao Miyazaki and may be their final film. If it does prove to be their last film, this is a wonderful farewell. It doesn't reach the heights of their best work, but it is visually stunning, and has enough emotion and sense of wonder to provide a more than worthwhile addition to the studio's peerless roster. It is a surprisingly dark film that touches on very bleak subject matter, such as bullying and parental neglect, and considering it's aimed at children, it may be disturbing for some. The story spins an intriguing mystery, and deals with the connections among family and friends, and past and present.