Sunday, 10 November 2013

A Letter to Momo (2011) - ★★★★½

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura
Writer: Hiroyuki Okiura

A Letter to Momo is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. Anyone who has lost someone close to them should see this film. “We’re not alone.” I adore this story, and everything it represents. Its message shows that there's more to this world than meets the eye... and it couldn't have been delivered in a more unique and visually beautiful way. It has the spiritual and sentimental elements of Studio Ghibli films, but the style and realism of Satoshi Kon's works. Hiroyuki Okiura apparently spent seven years producing and making this film, which we can see in each meticulous, wonderful scene. I was mostly intrigued at the start, entertained through the middle, and quietly emotional at the end. This film really takes you on a journey through the usage of real and supernatural relationships.

We follow an 11-year-old girl named Momo, whose father died not long ago. She moves with her mother to the remote Japanese island of Shio, where she feels isolated and lonely. Momo soon realizes that she is not alone in the house. It is occupied by three guardians, a large one named Kawa, an average sized human-looking one named Iwa, and a small demon-looking one named Mame. They cause all sorts of trouble for Momo, which eventually leads to the reveal of their purpose. It's entertaining, sad, and above all, heart-warming.

I love the pace of the film. They give us time to really look at the animation, which is absolutely beautiful. It’s not rushed or filled with excitement, it focuses more on the thoughts, feelings, and the general calm atmosphere of the island. The moments where we got to admire the great beauty of the scenery were, as Momo would put it, “Incredible.” The gorgeous score to the film just enhanced the impact of these moments, and really heightened my emotions. What separates the animation in this film from others is the unique, interesting, and downright awesome designs of the monsters/guardians. It reminds me of the spirits from Spirited Away, but they’re more human and creepy to look at. To cut a long story short, every single scene in this film looks amazing.

Without having to say much, we really get a sense of who our main character is. She’s quiet, shy, frustrated with her situation, and filled with regret about the past. I really felt for her, which made it easy to establish a connection. Momo's interactions with the guardian's start to bring her out of her shell. Even though they're hard to handle, and also selfish, I just adored the way they brightened up her life. 

Kawa the giant guardian is my favourite character. He's just so funny and peculiar. I imagine him as some former God/Warrior that devoured his enemies many millennia ago. Now he gets up to all kinds of mischief with Momo, making their relationship the most odd and awesome of the bunch. Iwa, the medium guardian, is gluttonous, selfish, and very annoying... but the film just wouldn't be the same without him. I even grew to love him. Now, the cutest and most lovable character is by far Mame, the tiny guardian. He makes Gene Simmons' tongue look puny in comparison. He was forgetful, funny, scary-looking, and utterly awesome. I became very attached to these three supernatural creatures. They really make this movie unforgettable. 

The film became very emotional whenever there was talk of Momo's father. I found the way they handled the subject, and the emotional display of the characters, to be very genuine and powerful. That ending man... that ending had me sobbing in silence. In fact, the whole last half hour of the film was one big, beautiful roller-coaster of awesome animation and emotions. 

What more can I say? I loved this film. Hiroyuki Okiura spent so much time perfecting this film, that one would be hard pressed to find a fault (one that has nothing to do with personal opinions). Not only is this one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen, it's one of the greatest animated movies ever made. 

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