Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mary and The Witch's Flower

Movie Name: Mary and The Witch's Flower
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Stars: Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent, Ewen Bremmer, Lynda Baron, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Morwenna Banks, Teresa Gallagher
Genre: Animation, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
View Trailer

Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi's most recent feature marks a departure for him, in the sense that is also the debut feature for the new animation studio, by the name of Studio Ponoc. The film is based on the novel by Mary Stewart, and follows the story of young Mary Smith, a young girl living in the country with her great aunt. In one of her expeditions throughout the woods, she comes across some magical plants, and also an abandoned broomstick. She suddenly sees herself traveling across the skies towards a magical school by the name of Endor, where she meets the headmistress Madam Mumblechook and the genial Doctor Dee. They both assume Mary to be a precociously talented witch, not realizing she's just a young girl somewhat lost. They do notice she knows where the magical flowers are, and they stop at nothing to get the information of their location from Mary.
Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi trained at Studio Ghibli, under the tutelage of Hayao Miyazaki, something that is apparent in this film (which was also apparent in one of his previous directorial efforts "The Secret World of Arrietty"). The young hero of this film feels somewhat similar to Kiki, from "Kiki's Delivery Service", but without as much charm and defined personality. The central character in this film feels very reactive and without much of an arc, something that was always fully realized in Hayao Miyazaki's films. It is nonetheless a beautiful film to look at, visually stunning, with great voice work coming from Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent. Definitely worth watching.