Social Sheffield Film Editor, Natasha Edgington, picks the top three films screening in Sheffield, Mon. 13 – Sun. 19 Feb. 2017
1. – Prevenge (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Comedy/Horror. Dir: Alice Lowe. Starring: Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Gemma Whelan, Kate Dickie, Kayvan Novak. Language: English]
British comedy belle Alice Lowe, who made her acting debut on Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, jumps in the director’s chair for horror comedy Prevenge. With reputable writing experience having co-written Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, Lowe has made an impressive directorial debut. For added realism, Lowe was seven months pregnant at the time of filming, starring as the single mum-to-be Ruth. Ruth is a somewhat mentally unstable woman, grappling with the arbitrary demands of the being growing inside her. However, these are not the expected demands of food and rest, rather a taste for blood and carnage. Believing to hear the voice of her unborn daughter imploring her to kill, Ruth is driven on a relentless murder spree, which begins to unravel more about her past. Lowe’s darkly comic creation is an utter triumph. Cleverly using the temperamental and turbulent nature of hormones and pregnancy as a foundation for psychological horror. Recalling the success of Sightseers, Lowe’s sure-handed balance of gore and deadpan humour will prove an entertaining experience, especially for the horror buffs. Surreal and grotesque murder scenes are wonderfully-choreographed, evoking the heydays of ‘70s Italian giallo. A fun revenge-tragedy narrative that puts blockbuster horrors to shame, Prevenge marks an exciting new chapter in Alice Lowe’s career.
See the trailer: Prevenge (2016)
2. – Moonlight (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Cineworld, Showroom)
[Genre: Drama. Dir: Barry Jenkins. Starring: Ashton Sanders, Alex R. Hibbert, Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris. Language: English]
Exploring the journey many black men raised in marginalised communities face, director Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight delivers a coming-of-age drama unlike most others. Divided over three time periods, the film charts the life of central character Chiron and childhood companion Kevin, observing the pivotal moments that shaped their course. Adapted from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the film begins with Chiron (aptly nicknamed Little) at ten-years-old during a particularly vulnerable period of his youth. A nuclear family with home comforts is but a mere fantasy for Chiron, who lives with his substance-addicted mother in a deprived Miami neighbourhood. Due to his dysfunctional home life he is an easy target for bullies, and finds little sympathy from his mother who is often absent. Chiron finds an ally in the local Cuban drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali), who helps him escape another assault by taking him home to his girlfriend Teresa. Sensing he is without familial security, Juan and Teresa take him under their wing, their home becoming Chiron’s sanctuary. Jenkins’ starkly realistic portrait of the African-American upbringing is a tender, heart-wrenching and profound experience. The carefully-written screenplay avoids the tropes of “disadvantaged” stereotypes; despite his criminal activities Juan is a paternal, nurturing figure and there is more to Chiron and Kevin’s friendship than meets the eye. James Laxton’s refined cinematography mirrors the emotional fluctuations of the narrative, echoing the aesthetic glory of Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai. Having already won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Drama), the film is set for further success with nominations in the upcoming Academy Awards and BAFTA ceremonies. Moonlight is a truly beautiful character study, covering themes of race, sexuality, class and love.
See the trailer: Moonlight (2016)
3. – 20th Century Women (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Drama. Dir: Mike Mills. Starring: Annette Bening, Lucas Jade Zumann, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup. Language: English]
From Mike Mills, the director behind the poignant Beginners comes meditative coming-of-age drama 20th Century Women. Taking place in the summer of 1979, mid-50s Dorothea lives with her teenage son Jamie, and boarders Abbie and William in Santa Barbara, California. Each of the characters have had their own hurdles in life to overcome, some still powering through them. Having had Jamie later in life, Dorothea feels like she is struggling to raise her son, feeling inadequate in her ability to connect with the new generation. In the kitchen one day, Dorothea asks Abbie and Jamie’s slightly older friend Julie if they would help enrich his worldview with their own experiences. This framework allows for each of the well-rounded characters to have their own presence on screen. Giving them the opportunity to express their musings via. voice-over (a Mills signature), whilst the camera plumbs in to their memories and deepest reservations. Political change permeates the narrative, and so Mills uses cultural signifiers throughout to evoke the characters’ wavering nostalgia. The soundtrack acts as a timeline of the characters’ lives; Dorothea’s youth being ‘20s jazz from Benny Goodman to Fred Astaire, and 1979 punk rock from Germs to Talking Heads. In particular, the punk-laden soundtrack suggests that this is an inherently personal film to Mills. An autobiographical account of his adolescence, shaped by the hands of sagacious women. A tender celebration of human connection and solidarity, 20th Century Women shows that relationships are integral to social progression.
See the trailer: 20th Century Women (2016)
– – – PREVIOUS EDITOR’S PICKS – STILL SCREENING – – –
Arrival (2016) – – – (12A) (Showing at Cineworld)
[Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi. Dir: Denis Villeneuve. Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg. Language: English]
French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) leaves no stone unturned, this time taking on the science fiction genre with latest feature Arrival. Twelve alien spacecrafts enter the Earth’s orbit, dispersing across the globe, leaving the masses perplexed. The US government enrols linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to decipher the cause for ‘their’ visitation. Taken from Ted Chiang’s short story Story of Your Life, this is a realistic depiction of first contact with alien life, without the expected clichés. In the same vein as many of the great science fiction monuments (2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and more recently Interstellar) the film explores the relativity to human life; time, memory, fear and communication. It must be said that Amy Adams’ spectacular performance really illuminates the film. The combination of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s thudding score and Bradford Young’s majestic cinematography forge a highly engrossing experience. If you are a newcomer to or have only seen his English-speaking work, I implore you to check out Villeneuve’s masterpiece Incendies. A wonderfully pensive and evocative piece of filmmaking, audiences will leave Arrival reflecting their existence.
See the trailer: Arrival (2016)
Hacksaw Ridge (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Cineworld, Odeon, Vue)
[Genre: Drama/War. Dir: Mel Gibson. Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving. Language: English/Japanese]
Mel Gibson makes his directorial comeback with Hacksaw Ridge, an old-fashioned albeit bloody war drama based on true events. Andrew Garfield takes the lead as U.S. army medic Desmond Doss, a Christian man who enrols for service during World War II. Desmond soon causes ripples as he refuses to bear arms due to his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. The film is divided in to two parts, beginning with his early stages of training, meeting future wife Dorothy, and outlining the disadvantaged upbringing which led to his state of beliefs. The second half sees him thrown out of his comfort zone and on to the frontline of the Battle of Okinawa. Writers Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan masterfully weave emotionally searing moments with turbulent battle scenes, achieving a good balance particularly in the latter half. Two raging struggles charge the narrative forward; the war itself, and the wrestle to retain faith amid bloodshed. As to be expected from Gibson, the battle sequences are far from sugar-coated. They are well-choreographed and will appeal greatly to fans of the genre. While the savage and unflinching nature of these scenes may be too lurid for some, they accurately depict the reality of war, especially from this period. An engaging war narrative with classical direction, Hacksaw Ridge marks a respectable return for Mel Gibson.
See the trailer: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
I, Daniel Blake (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Odeon)
[Genre: Drama. Dir: Ken Loach. Starring: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Sharon Percy. Language: English]
A fearless force in British filmmaking, Ken Loach (Kes, The Wind That Shakes the Barley) reaped the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes for I, Daniel Blake. It’s well deserved. This is a convincing portrayal of a 59-year-old carpenter thrown into the benefits system following a heart attack. The power of the film lies in the relatable characters and their situations, a Loach trademark. The director’s intent is clear: this is a statement on the devastating impact of austerity. Once more he shines a light on society’s shamefully misrepresented. For anyone unfamiliar with his work, this is be a great entry point. Thought-provoking and compassionate, I, Daniel Blake is an insightful portrait of the times.
See the trailer: I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Jackie (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Drama/Biography. Dir: Pablo Larraín. Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt. Language: English/Spanish]
Tackling another political biopic from an unconventional angle, Pablo Larraín (Neruda, The Club, No) depicts Jackie in the wake of husband John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Taken from Noah Oppenheim’s highly sought after screenplay (Steven Spielberg once debated its acquisition), the film respectfully portrays Jacqueline Kennedy’s battle with grief under the spotlight. Opening with the pivotal event, the camera observes Jacqueline through the many invasive public appearances that ensued after. Larraín’s blend of nonlinear flashbacks and interview-style sequences with present day offers a little more depth to the subject’s sorrow. Memories are so often drawn to the surface during our dark moments and this is achieved tastefully. This is undoubtedly Natalie Portman’s best performance in recent years, portraying a gradually crumbling persona shrouded by sartorial finery and poise. Portman’s steely performance has garnered some criticism, though she has executed the role appropriately. Her anguish may be barely detectable, but there are moments where her barriers falter. With Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream) leading production and Under the Skin composer Mica Levi serving an intense string-driven soundtrack, the final result is utterly resplendent. Jackie is a depiction of how prominent figures must reinvent versions of themselves to maintain self-preservation during tragedy.
See the trailer: Jackie (2016)
La La Land (2016) – – – (12A) (Showing at Cineworld, Curzon, Odeon, Showroom, Vue)
[Genre: Musical/Romantic Comedy. Dir: Damien Chazelle. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J. K. Simmons, John Legend. Language: English]
Damien Chazelle’s La La Land sets the precedence for contemporary musicals, giving the genre a much-needed rejuvenation. Crazy, Stupid, Love co-stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone reunite and take centre stage in this sensational feature. The film opens with jazz pianist Seb and aspiring actress Mia stuck in a Los Angeles traffic jam, which explodes in to a glorious routine on a four lane overpass. Their paths fail to cross during this sequence, and Chazelle teases this during the beginning, evoking the poetics of great movie (and real life) romances. When boy finally meets girl in serendipitous circumstances, their compatibility is undeniable. Both are dreamers and perfectionists, largely unappreciated in a city made of fleeting stardom. But all good things come to an end, and ultimately they must decide what is important – dreams or love. Damien Chazelle has achieved a visual masterpiece, invoking the majesty of classic Hollywood musicals and forging his own interpretation. The kaleidoscopic splendour of the imagery is its most breath-taking aspect. Shot on 35mm celluloid, the camera pirouettes through the film in sweet reverie. Chazelle takes inspiration from Jacques Demy’s French ‘60s musicals The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort, and celebrates legends Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers. The two leads captivate with equally remarkable performances, and are a true joy to watch on screen. With music being a primary concern of Damien Chazelle (his last feature being the highly-acclaimed Whiplash), one wonders what genre he will tackle next. Tantalising the senses with its lavish pastel hues and compelling chemistry, La La Land is an idyllic escape from the January blues.
See the trailer: La La Land (2016)
Lion (2016) – – – (PG) (Showing at Cineworld, Odeon, Showroom, Vue)
[Genre: Drama. Dir: Garth Davis. Starring: Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham. Language: English/Bengali/Hindi]
Fresh on the film circuit, Garth Davis’ Lion is a dramatisation of Saroo Brierley’s non-fiction book A Long Way Home. Having previously worked with Jane Campion on her series Top of the Lake, Davis is not a total newcomer to the medium. The remarkable story sees a five-year-old Indian boy Saroo becoming inadvertently separated from his family, after he climbs aboard a closed train only to wake days later miles away from home. Saroo is thronged in to an unknown environment and must use his instinct to navigate life amongst the bustle of Calcutta’s streets. Years later and unable to forget that cataclysmic moment of his youth, twenty-five-year-old Saroo played by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Skins) strives to locate his biological family using the technological advances of Google Earth. It is hard to gloss over the fact that this is a Hollywood production, drawing in big names guaranteed to reap attention. Two of Hollywood’s finest actresses Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara bolster the film with credible performances, though are sadly hindered by clichéd and underwritten roles. The real star of the show is the young Saroo performed flawlessly by non-actor Sunny Pawar. His inimitable naturalness is magical, evoking Subir Banerjee’s performance in Satyajit Ray’s childhood classic Pather Panchali. Nonetheless, while it straddles familiar territory and fails to bring anything exceptional to the table, the source content of Lion is still an interesting discovery to make.
See the trailer: Lion (2016)
Loving (2016) – – – (12A) (Showing at Cineworld, Showroom)
[Genre: Biography/Drama. Dir: Jeff Nichols. Starring: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Nick Kroll. Language: English]
His second film to reach cinema screens in under a year, Loving is Jeff Nichols’ (Mud, Take Shelter) latest feature, a stark contrast to his science fiction release Midnight Special. Nichols takes the helm as both director and screenwriter, adapting the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving. Set in 1958 Virginia, diligent builder-cum-mechanic Richard (Joel Edgerton) and girlfriend Mildred’s (Ruth Negga) world changes forever when Mildred falls pregnant. Their inclination towards marriage comes natural, yet one obstacle stands in their way. Richard is white, Mildred is black, and interracial marriage within Virginia is illegal. They elope to Washington D.C. where their marriage will be valid and free of judgemental scorn. Returning home soon after, they realise the law is never too far behind. Nichols respectfully depicts the Loving’s case, which later resulted in the abolition of the law that plagued them. His restrained used of dialogue and inconsistent pacing may prove problematic for some audiences. Frequent collaborator Adam Stone’s earthy cinematography pairs beautifully with the pastoral scenery of the South. Nichols may have taken the safe option in contrast to his adventurous earlier works, though the historical importance of Loving outweighs its faults.
See the trailer: Loving (2016)
Manchester by the Sea (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Odeon, Showroom)
[Genre: Drama. Dir: Kenneth Lonergan. Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Ben O’Brien. Language: English]
Playwright turned director Kenneth Lonergan’s third feature Manchester by the Sea is a work of humanist magnificence. The film opens with Lee (Casey Affleck), a solitary handyman living in Boston, who returns to his eponymous hometown after his brother suffers a heart attack. Passing away upon his arrival, Lee delivers the heart-wrenching news to his sixteen-year-old nephew Patrick, and begins to effectuate the funeral preparations. An arduous journey lies ahead for Lee for several reasons. Assuming the role of Patrick’s guardian is no easy challenge, and even more so is the confrontation of his haunted past – the reason he fled home many years ago. Kenneth Lonergan hones a profound portrayal of the grieving process, which will pack a punch for many viewers. It must be said that the screenplay and dialogue is exceptional, relying little on brazen acts of Hollywood melodrama. Sombre moments are undercut with streaks of dark humour, which balances the tone appropriately. The film boasts standout performances by all cast members. Casey Affleck is believably subdued as Lee, and Lucas Hedges is sublime as Patrick, the teen masking his grief behind a sardonic façade. Manchester by the Sea is a quietly devastating drama, of overcoming plaguing sorrows that cause many to despair. A strong Oscar Awards contender, watch this space.
See the trailer: Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Moana (2016) – – – (PG) (Showing at Cineworld, Odeon, Vue)
[Genre: Animation/Adventure. Dir: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams. Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison. Language: English]
Disney continue to pave the way for modern animation in their latest delight Moana. Taking us to warmer climates in contrast to their previous box office hit Frozen, the directors behind Aladdin and The Little Mermaid weave a vibrant fairy tale, incorporating Polynesian folklore to the tapestry. Amidst the tranquil island of Motunui lives Moana, the sole heir to a chief in a long line of sea navigators. When the crops begin to wither and the island’s fisherman unable to catch any fish, the Ocean seeks her help in what will be a life-changing quest. She learns that the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) has stolen the heart of the island which keeps its life flowing, and so she embarks on a voyage to return it home. Centring around a headstrong and independent female lead, Moana indicates the positive direction Disney is taking the franchise. Alongside Mulan, The Princess and the Frog, Brave and even Frozen, Moana has given girls and boys a respectable role model to aspire to. It must be said that it is a beautiful film to look at. This is the crème de la crème of digital animation; skin and hair have palpable texture and dimension, whilst the luscious water and foliage almost flow through the screen. Adventurous, heart-warming and funny, audiences of all ages will be swept away by the splendour of Moana. Make sure you stay seated until after the credits roll.
See the trailer: Moana (2016)
Nocturnal Animals (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Film Unit, Sheffield Students’ Union, Western Rd, S10 2TG on Fri. 17 Feb. at 7:30pm. Tickets £3, book online or pay at the desk.)
[Genre: Drama/Thriller. Dir: Tom Ford. Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher. Language: English]
Following his sublime debut with A Single Man, Tom Ford jumps back in the director’s chair for Nocturnal Animals. It is hardly a surprise that he has bagged some of Hollywood’s finest for the casting. Amy Adams plays a high-end gallery owner, trapped in a loveless marriage and dissatisfied with her vapid social life. Her world falls in to disarray when she receives a copy of her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel, soon losing herself in its contents. The film then divides in to two parallel storylines; the narrative of the book and her past life with her ex-husband. Ford masters a compelling, neo-noir thriller adapted from Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan. The exquisite cinematography by Seamus McGarvey embodies the many layers of this complex film. There are undeniable influences in this piece, ranging from David Lynch to Nicolas Winding Refn. Abel Korzeniowski reunites with Ford to compose another exceptional score, resonating beautifully with the plot’s varying emotional intensity. The film garners outstanding performances by all cast members, Michael Shannon’s return to the big screen does not disappoint. Nocturnal Animals is an aesthetically-pleasing, twisted allegory on the anguish of regret.
See the trailer: Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) – – – (12A) (Showing at Cineworld, Vue)
[Genre: Action/Sci-Fi. Dir: Gareth Edwards. Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen. Language: English]
Already reaping ecstatic responses from hardcore fans, this instalment to the Star Wars franchise is destined to be a success. Director Gareth Edwards brings Rogue One: A Star Wars to cinema screens this December with his tale of the Rebels who stole the Empire’s plans for the Death Star. He manages to introduce a completely new story laden with original characters, whilst honouring the traditions of the original trilogy right down to the creatures, wardrobe and screenplay. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) plays the spirited rogue searching for her theoretician father (Mads Mikkelsen) after he was taken by the cunning Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). She forges an alliance with a band of misfits and together they set out to find their place in the galaxy. Boasting an impressive cast, Donnie Yen (Hero, Ip Man), Riz Ahmed (The Night Of, Four Lions) and Forest Whitaker (Platoon, Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, Phone Booth) illuminate the film with a surprising mix of diversity. From the exhilarating opening scene to the blood-pumping third act, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivers an exciting new chapter to science fiction’s beloved universe.
See the trailer: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Taxi Driver (1976) – – – (18) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Drama/Crime. Dir: Martin Scorsese. Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle. Language: English/Spanish]
Gracing Showroom Cinema this month is the 4k restoration of Martin Scorsese’s seminal feature Taxi Driver. After their previous work together on Mean Streets, Scorsese teamed back up with Robert De Niro, resulting in career-defining moments for both. Discharged marine Travis (Robert De Niro) takes up work as a cabbie in New York City, often navigating the streets at night due to his PTSD-triggered insomnia. His nocturnal observations shape his moral outlook, despairing at the degradation that greets him at every street corner. This depravity manifests in Travis’ mind through the course of the film, warping his perception of humanity and fuelling his isolation. Travis’ work leads him to cross paths with a young girl (Jodie Foster), who is entangled in the criminal underbelly he disdains so passionately. Taking up the gauntlet, he decides to enact justice the only way he knows how. Martin Scorsese’s tour de force character study continues to impress audiences forty years after its release. It shows how misunderstood individuals can turn to contempt if connections with others fail. Screenwriter Paul Schrader took inspiration from the personal diaries of Arthur Bremer, who shot presidential candidate George Wallace in 1972. The use of voice-over narration as Travis charts the grungy streets has become one of its most iconic features. Cinematographer Michael Chapman, who later went on to work with Scorsese on Raging Bull, gorgeously captures the decaying urban landscape of ‘70s New York City, with looming camerawork simulating voyeurism. The effective use of slow motion during pivotal scenes gently nods to the techniques of samurai cinema, a genre that Scorsese continues to champion to this day with his film preservation work. The legendary influence of Taxi Driver is seen in the likes of Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. All roles regardless of size are performed realistically, though of course Robert De Niro steals the show as the malcontented anti-hero. A gritty, modern-day tale of sin and redemption, Taxi Driver stands tall as a perfectly-crafted psychological drama.
See the trailer: Taxi Driver (1976)
Toni Erdmann (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Comedy/Drama. Dir: Maren Ade. Starring: Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl. Language: German/English/Romanian]
A critics’ favourite among the festival circuit, German-Austrian release Toni Erdmann is a somewhat unconventional familial comedy. It won the FIPRESCI award for Best Film at Cannes Film Festival and is nominated for the upcoming Academy Awards and BAFTA Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. After the death of his dog, retired piano teacher Winfried pays his high-flying executive daughter Ines a visit in Bucharest, Romania. Armed with his usual roster of practical jokes, Winfried is met with a cold reception from his daughter, who regards his visit a hindrance. The focus on her career detracts from the bonding time Winfried had hoped for, and is instead eager for his departure. With the help of a wig and set of oversized false teeth, Winfried reinvents himself as life coach Toni Erdmann, and heads toward Ines’ corporate world once more. Director and screenwriter Maren Ade has done a sterling job at capturing the office landscape that Ines navigates. The awkward, observational comedy is guaranteed to raise laughs, particularly at the familiarity of the interchanges. The performances by Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek are highly commendable. Thoughtful, tangible and life-affirming, Toni Erdmann is a glorious unexpected comedy that will knock things in to perspective. Hollywood could take a leaf or two out of Ade’s book.
See the trailer: Toni Erdmann (2016)
Your Name (2016) – – – (12A) (Showing at Film Unit, Sheffield Students’ Union, Western Rd, S10 2TG on Sun. 19 Feb. at 3:30pm & 7:30pm. Tickets £3, book online or pay at the desk.)
[Genre: Anime/Drama. Dir: Makoto Shinkai. Starring: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryô Narita. Language: Japanese]
A perpetual void will be felt in the anime circuit when Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki retires for good, and it seems Makoto Shinkai will be a fitting successor. Anime fanatics will already be aware of Shinkai’s previous films such as 5 Centimetres Per Second and The Garden of Words, though Your Name is arguably his finest work to date. Inspired by Shinkai’s novel of the same name, the plot centres on the identity swap of the two teenagers – a forlorn country girl Mitsuha and city dweller Taki – catalysed by a passing comet. The pair embark on a quest to unite and discover the person whose body they are inhabiting. The combination of body-swap formula, time travel and meditations on catastrophe and loss make for a highly interesting drama that can be appreciated by audiences of all ages. As with all of Shinkai’s features, the animation is absolutely impeccable, the hyper-realistic backgrounds often reflecting the emotional tone of the scenes. Your Name is a total triumph for Japanese animation, leaving viewers with more food for thought than most live-action dramas.
See the trailer: Your Name (2016)
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