Monday, 31 December 2012

Whisper of the Heart (1995) - ★★★½

Director: Yoshifumi Kondo
Writers: Hayao Miyazaki (screenplay), Aoi Hiiragi (comic)

Whisper of the Heart is a nice film by the brilliant company Studio Ghibli, who are famous for masterpieces such as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. It is a drama  with a small amount of magic at its core, which is enough to sustain a movie for an hour and a half, but unfortunately it isn't enough for this film which is almost two hours long. At times it can be boring, and at others it can capture your heart and imagination.

Shizuku Tsukishima is a teenage girl interested in writing, fairytales and books. The story gets interesting when she finds out that a boy named Seiji Amasawa has previously borrowed every library book she wants to read before she has read them. The very same boy is a violin maker in his grandfather's antique shop, who dreams of going to Italy to become a master in the field. Their lives get caught up in a nice heart-warming love story, which is what the film is based around.

This is pretty much your standard teen-drama movie, but with good dialogue, real beauty and a hint of magic. The magic is provided by the story of a Cat Figurine dressed as a gentleman named The Baron. His story is that he is always searching for his lost love Louise. So when Seiji eventually goes to Italy, Shizuku ends up writing a novel about The Baron, which brings us into this magnificent scenes of The Baron and Shizuku flying around this magical world of make-believe. It is this story that provides the most entertainment and interest, which is why it's a shame that it got hardly any screen time in comparison to the lesser story of the small events of this girls life.

There is a nice score that is played a couple of times in this film. Sadly, it is weighted down by a cheesy song Shizuku wrote called Country Roads, which at first was nice, but then became repetitive and annoying. For me, music enhances a film to greatness, which is what this film was missing. Another misstep in terms of the story was that many things happened in regards to Shizuku's bestfriend, her bestfriends' crush, her parents, and her sister; yet none of it had anything to do with the main story at hand. Sometimes they were interesting, but mostly it felt like it shouldn't have been emphasised with so much importance.

Nitpicking aside, I enjoyed this film a lot for the most part. It has a magic entirely different from that of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. It's the magic of a young teenager's imagination.

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