Film Review: When Marnie Was There

In association with the Grosvenor


Ever since I saw first few minutes of Spirted Away back when I was eight, I have loved Studio Ghibli. The studio’s films have always been on my list of ultimate favourite films, and When Marnie Was There is no exception.

Based on the book of the same title by Joan G. Robinson, the film follows the story of Anna, a very quiet, withdrawn girl, who gets sent to live in the countryside, where she meets a girl called Marnie.

On the surface, the two girls may seem very different – Marnie lives in a grand mansion and is dressed in glorious dresses, whereas Anna is a tomboy, usually choosing to wear t-shirts and shorts. Anna is very quiet and introverted and keeps to herself most of the time, and therefore does not have very many friends. On the other hand, Marnie is used to having large extravagant parties and loves having people around her. However, they both are similar in other respects. Even though they both have different family situations, they both have similar experiences of abandonment, which brings them both closer together.

The film is quite realistic when compared to other Studio Ghibli films, such as Howl’s Moving Castle, about magic and witches. There is still an element of fantasy in the story, but the focus is much less on the fantasy and more on the characters’ stories, particularly the mystery surrounding Marnie and who she is.

As usual with Studio Ghibli films, the scenery and setting of the film is enough to make you fall in love, with beautiful depictions of the landscape of the countryside and the marshes where most of the film takes place. The storyline is heart-wrenching and intriguing, and grabs you with the mystery around Marnie and her friendship with Anna, leaving you desperately watching to find out the truth and to see if your suspicions are correct. This film is stunning in all respects.

When Marnie Was There is a truly touching story about friends and family, and exactly what makes you part of one, as well as discovering where you belong.

[Mata Durkin – @MataDurkin]

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