It’s rare that I come across a movie that I find absolutely fantastic, but I found one last Thursday when my friends and I went to go see The Secret World of Arrietty, a Disney-translated and dubbed Kari-guarashi no Arietti.
Based off the award-winning book, The Borrowers, The Secret World of Arrietty starts us off going from the city of Tokyo to the countryside, where a boy named Shawn (Sho) is staying to rest before a heart operation the following week. As he arrives, he notices Arrietty (Arietti), a 14-yeard-old Borrower. In highly stylized fashion, we watch Arrietty nimbly dodge the pet cat, Nina, and escape through a grate into an area underneath the house Shawn is staying. Indeed, the art style and animation are truly marvelous eye-candy, and I found myself enjoying the animation throughout the film. Seeing the world through Arrietty’s eyes makes something as simple as a house an entire world to explore, and explore we do as Pod (Poddo), Arrietty’s father, takes her through a few of the rooms of the house to ‘borrow’ a cube of sugar and tissue paper.
I usually take Japanese animated films and shows subbed. Rarely do I find a dub worth mentioning, and this one is definitely worth mentioning. You can tell Disney took time to make sure they had a good voice acting cast, and did they deliver. What really stood out to me during the opening credits was Will Arnett, whom I know from Arrested Development. All of the cast was great, and I felt each voice fit each character nicely, and they really play off of each other.
The movie moves along a little slow; it takes a long time for Arrietty and Shawn to speak, let alone Arrietty letting Shawn see her. Yet, despite this slow pace, I found myself enjoying it. Many movies today are action-packed and full of quick, high-intensity situations, so it was nice to watch a simple movie that had characters that really grew. You can feel Arrietty’s conflicting emotions as she walks down the nail staircase from Shawn’s room after he saves her, and even tries to convince her father that not all beans (a Borrower mispronunciation of ‘being’) are bad.
The music plays off of this quiet, slow style well. The music, all written and composed by French artist Cecil Corbel, really fits each scene well, and I love a movie with excellent music. I especially love Arrietty’s Song. None of the music is fast or intrusive. It just gently ebbs and flows with each scene, even the more spurring pieces able to stay soft whilst letting you know that the characters are pushing themselves.
The ending is a little abrupt, but understandable. I was wishing it had been a little different, but it didn’t really jar me. It was a good ending to a wonderful film.
All in all, The Secret World of Arrietty is, at its core, a children’s film of friendship, but told in such a way that anyone of any age (or those who love animation) can enjoy. I highly recommend you see this.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Oh, and Hayao Miyazaki co-wrote the screenplay.