Friday, November 30, 2018

Movie with Abe: Mirai

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda
Released November 30, 2018

Films about siblings rarely begin from a positive vantage point highlighting a wonderful relationship. While there are instances of good dynamics between brothers or sisters in real life and even on film, most cinematic representations involve a rivalry that begins either at birth or later on due to a spirit of competition that almost never serves as a productive influence. This presentation can be very dark and lead to unfortunate results, but there are also simpler, more peaceful explorations of what it means to go from being the unchallenged favorite to having to compete with someone else for affection.

Kun is a four-year-old boy who lives with his parents in Japan. When his younger sister, Mirai, is born, he quickly sees that she has garnered the attention from his hard-working mother and less aware father. Desperate to be noticed, Kun lashes out and finds a magical garden that enables him to meet an older version of Mirai, a human version of his dog, his great-grandfather, and others that help to show him that he’s worth more than he thinks he is, and that no one considers him a second choice to the new baby in their lives.

This is the latest Japanese animated film to make an international splash, following in the footsteps and the style of recent successes like “When Marnie Was There” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” in bringing a unique cultural vision to its storytelling. The concept here is rather straightforward, seen through the eyes of a child who shouldn’t understand how big the world is but is able to do so thanks to this wondrous phenomenon he encounters. It also navigates the difficulties of parenting and marriage as overheard by Kun but understood far more deeply by adult audiences.

There is a fantastical nature to this film, one that animates its more standard and present scenes as Kun is treated to a mature preview of how his life will turn out when he can’t possibly fathom or comprehend what awaits him. As it progresses, Kun becomes even more entrenched in this fantasy world that somehow exists for him, which delves deeper into how his perception of the world as a child shapes those around him. It’s a winning concept that ends on a heartwarming and sweet note, a film that deserves a slot at the upcoming Academy Awards as an eligible contender for the Best Animated Feature prize.


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