Saturday, July 30, 2011

Arriety The Borrorwer (2010)

This weekend we're going to take a look at a couple of big films from Japan that will be coming soon to American shores. Both are major event films. Both getting releases well after their releases in Japan both in theaters and are now available on DVD as imports. Today's film is the newest feature from Studio Ghibli, Arriety the Borrower, while tomorrows film is the big screen live action version of Space Battleship Yamato aka Star Blazers.

This is the story of Arriety and her family. They are borrowers, small humans who borrow things from big who "borrow" things from big people in order to get by. They think they maybe the only ones of their kind left. When Arriety goes off with her father on her first borrowing trip she runs across a sick human boy who is staying at the house before an operation. Things are complicated when the boy sees her and she and her family have to decide whether to flee or stay.

This is a beautiful film that seems more a doodle then a full movie.It feels like some of the short film sketches that Hayao Miyazaki has turned out over the years where things happen but there isn't much of a story. The reason for that the film seems like it's little more than a couple of sequences that just seem to go on and on and on seeming to fill the time with the lovely visuals. Little really happens, or when it does it's in fits and starts with threads hanging out left and right but not really going anywhere. In all honesty, the one big dramatic turn, Haru's (one of the human beans, ie big people) drive to call in exterminators seems to arise purely to have some sort of real conflict in a film that is decidedly lacking in it.

It's not a bad film but a rather unremarkable one and quite honestly were it not from Studio Ghibli (and co produced by Disney) I don't think it would have ever gotten a (big) release outside of Japan.

Possibly the dullest of the Ghibli canon with none of the peaks and valleys that even the other films I have complained about have had. Nothing stands out outside of the sumptuous look. There is no moments where I teared up or went wow or any sort of reaction other than I wished it did more than looked good... I think kids will be bored and boys, in particular will be squirming...even with the late in the game addition of a borrower named Spiller (who does little other than look mean and get goofy for Arriety).

As is my typical addendum, yes I have seen the film a couple of times before posting this. If you know my feelings for Ghibli films you know it takes me a few tries to decide what I think...

The film was released yesterday in the UK. The film is due for a US release in a dubbed version by Disney (who produced the film) February of 2012. Interestingly the UK dub is different than the US one.(Thank you to Randi for her help in researching this post)

1 comment:

  1. I actually watched this last week. I love Studio Ghibli but I wasn't expecting it would be as grand as something like Nausicaa. I agree with a lot of what you said. Though the level of detail is just crazy (like her walking on nails!) it was definitely no Howl's moving castle. Nevertheless, as a gut response, I'd have to say it was a sweet escape.