When Marnie Was There

Beautiful animated film about a shy, boyish girl who cements an unexpected friendship with the mysterious Marnie, a girl totally her opposite. Apparently the last film to issue from the renowned Japanese Studio Ghibli.

In this film adaptation of Joan G. Robinson’s novel of the same name of 1967, the Norfolk coast has been exchanged for the coast of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Twelve-year-old Anna is a lonely schoolgirl who lives in a big city. To try and recover from her asthma, she spends the summer with her aunt and uncle who live on a picturesque bay on rural Hokkaido. Anna spends her days making sketches of Marsh House, a magnificent but rundown  country house on the other side of the bay. This is where she eventually runs into the mysterious Marnie, who claims to be living there even though the place looks derelict.

An unexpected friendship is forged between these two opposite characters: the shy and tormented Anna on the one hand and the gorgeous blonde Marnie on the other. We are left to speculate whether Marnie is really a person or a figment of Anna’s imagination. Director 
Yonebayashi (Arriety) brings out this ambiguity in his remarkable drawing style, which persuasively suggests that something imaginary can feel far more real than the things that are actually there. In the honoured Ghibli tradition of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Wind Rises, Yonebayashi’s artwork reveals a keen eye for detail and the magical dimension.