When Marnie Was There

Upon being sent to live with relatives in the countryside due to an illness, an emotionally distant adolescent girl becomes obsessed with an abandoned mansion and infatuated with a girl who lives there - a girl who may or may not be real.


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  • ★★★★ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd


    It’s fitting that the last Studio Ghibli film for the foreseeable future is a simple, elegiac story about a young woman who learns the power of *drawing* from the past.

    no, it's not Miyazaki or Takahata, but it's the next best thing.

    on my way out of the movie, I saw an old woman walk directly into a wall because she was crying so hard. she seemed okay.


  • ★★★★★ review by Ruksana 🍂 on Letterboxd

    I saw When Marnie Was There this morning. By evening I was on my way to the theater to see it again. That's a first for me.

    It wasn't just that my local cinema provided both dubbed and subtitled screenings. Sure, I wanted to see both versions. But more than that, I wanted to return to the world of this movie because it stirred some deep nerve cluster that connected my childhood to my adulthood. That's a quality that I've found time and time again in Studio Ghibli's films.

    I hope this isn't their last. I really do. But if it is, as sad as that is, I'll remain grateful for this last flare of color, motion, sound, and the aching heart that beats beneath it. More than that, it's an elegant, well-crafted love story/ghost story — a film of narrative circles that intersect, interlock and softly dissolve boundaries between worlds. Between Marnie and Anna there are two girlhoods that briefly align through a spectral memory loop. It's not "Ghibli's queer film", not exactly, but it is a love story, and it takes pains to show us the ways that all of our love stories begin with our childhoods. Anna is "othered" in so many ways, but she finds that what makes her real is not what's on the outside, but the ways she loves and is loved.

    It's hard to say goodbye. Studio Ghibli is the reason I fell in love with films in the first place. But as long as I'm alive, I want to help keep this kind of beauty alive in our world. It's a silly little dream, and you could say I'm wearing "Ghibli Goggles", but this really is how I want to see the world. Everyone needs their little flame to keep lit, and this is the one I chose.

  • ★★★★½ review by Michael Stuhlman on Letterboxd

    Wow. I truly wasn't expecting that. At first the movie was slow going, seemed overtly sad and just kind of depressing for the sake of being depressing. Once the story starts to kick in though and the titular character is introduced, things shift greatly and we end up getting an emotionally resonant story about the loneliness of youth, the importance of friends and the undeniable impact of family. I'm definitely going to watch this one again once the english dub get's released, it's got a great cast and I'd love to go through this one a second time. Given this could be Ghibli's last feature, there is an even deeper underlying melancholy to the film. Seek it out, fans of animation and especially Ghibli will not be disappointed.

  • ★★★★ review by 👽 Zara 👽 on Letterboxd

    i can't believe studio ghibli queerbaited me

  • ★★★★ review by Tasha Robinson on Letterboxd

    The film being heralded as possibly Ghibli's last isn't actually likely to be Ghibli's last film. But it may be the last one that looks like this, because future Ghibli movies won't have this level of resources. And this is a thoroughly amazing looking film. It's one of the studio's smaller films, with no big fantasy tropes or Miyazaki flying sequences, but it's still recognizably the work of a well-known studio, and particularly the work of one determined to make the most of its chance to create animation like no one else does.

    Full review for The Dissolve here.

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