17
Feb
2012
Review: The Secret World of Arietty
The Secret World of Arietty
Alex
I am a student of animation, so I have a soft spot for any Studio Ghibli film. Not that you need to study animation to admire them. No one else in the world produces hand-animated films that match the beauty of the ones that are coming out of Studio Ghibli. Only Pixar matches Ghibli in terms of the emotional complexity that they give their films. The Secret World of Arrietty is the latest Ghibli work to come stateside and is just as charming are gorgeous as anything they've made before.

Based on the story The Borrowers, Arrietty is about a sick boy who leaves the city to spend a week in the countryside in the house his mother grew up in. Not many "children's" films come with the emotional complexity that this does. Asking very direct questions about mortality is something many movies aimed at kids wouldn't even dream of going near. It handles the questions it asks with heart and a sincerity that movies rarely do today, children's or otherwise.

Like many Studio Ghibli films, each frame is a piece of art. The backgrounds are so finely detailed that you can hardly take it all in with just one viewing. The animation is top notch. Each character's actions are so carefully done, you quickly forget that you're watching animation. The small details they put into the movements make the characters feel real. The sound design also helped to sell the idea that you were watching tiny people in a big world. When the sound is from the point of view of the Borrowers is when it really shines.

The voice acting may not be the best that a Ghibli film has been, but it didn't distract from the film. Will Arnett, in particular, comes off pretty flat. But with no other complaints about the movie I can't recommend it enough. As long as you don't have a cold, black heart you will find yourself charmed by The Secret World of Arrietty.

Grade: A-

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