REVIEW: When Marnie Was There (2014)

When Marnie Was There (2014) is a point and click adventure game. You play as a young girl named Marnie, who is undergoing a difficult time in her life. Her older sister Marnie passed away three years ago and she has to deal with the grief and loss of her lost sister. She is forced to move out of her home and into a new apartment and goes to a new school, and all of this is happening for a reason: Marnie has been given a new task in life.

The Japanese game studio, Acquire, has made a name for themselves with their quirky games like Steins;Gate and Zero Escape; however, the latest release for them is quite different. When Marnie Was There (2014) is an adventure game that follows the tale of a young girl, Marnie, who is kidnapped by a strange man and his robot, and wakes up in a world full of unique characters.

When Marnie Was There is a point and click adventure game developed by the Japanese studio Butterfly Soup for the Xbox 360 and Wii U. The parallel story focuses on a young woman who loses her father and her stepmother to a tragic accident. In order to find the answers to the mystery of the why’s she begins to investigate the world around her, while encountering a host of weird and wonderful characters.

When Marnie Was There (REVIEW) (2014)

Anime

REVIEW-When-Marnie-Was-There-2014

When Marnie Was There was Studio Ghibli’s last film before Earwig and the Witch, and it was based on a book by English novelist Joan G. Robinson. Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who previously helmed the studio’s The Secret World of Arrietty, directed the picture. This is a rare Studio Ghibli film that I haven’t seen or heard much about. I had to double-check that When Marnie Was There was a Studio Ghibli film; I had assumed it could simply be a film with a similar style to Miss Hokusai or Mary and the Witch’s Flower. When Marnie Was There is a plain, realistic departure from Ghibli’s typical fanciful tales for the most part. However, there is one mystery figure that might be regarded as extraterrestrial. Let’s take a closer look.

 

Anna Sasaki (Hailee Steinfeld) is a 12-year-old girl who keeps her foster parents at a distance and never tells her mother (Geena Davis) how she feels or what she needs. Anna is sent to stay with relatives in the countryside to relax and recover when her asthma flares up (John C. Reilly, Grey DeLisle). Surprisingly, Anna falls in love with the area, being particularly captivated with a neighboring marsh home. Anna goes to the mansion to draw it at first, but she quickly notices a strange figure in the windows. Anna meets Marnie (Kiernan Shipka), a lonely but vibrant young girl, and the two quickly become friends. Anna learns that her new acquaintance is more than she seems as she tries to keep Marnie a secret and avoid social contacts with anybody else in town.

When Marnie Was There maintains Studio Ghibli’s history of using exceptional English actors in its dubs. Anna is played by Hailee Steinfeld, while Marnie is played by Kiernan Shipka (Legend of Korra, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). Yoriko, Anna’s foster mother, is played by Geena Davis, which shocked me. Geena Davis is one of my favorite actresses, yet it’s been years since I’ve seen her name in a film’s credits. The Oiwas, Anna’s relatives with whom she spends the summer, are played by John C. Reilly and Grey DeLisle. Vanessa Williams, Kathy Bates, Catherine O’Hara, and Ellen Burstyn round out the well-known names, although DeLisle, Shipka, and Fred Tatasciore are among the veteran voice performers used in this picture.

When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There, the first thing that hit me was Anna. She’s a jerk who makes life tough for her mother by refusing to make an effort to get along with the girls in the town where she’s living. Anna says many times during the film that she despises herself, typically blaming her conduct as the reason. This is painfully familiar to me since I feel exactly the same way; I despise you, Anna!

When Marnie Was There

In all seriousness, I believe that many individuals, especially young women and girls, suffer from self-hatred. I applaud the filmmakers (and Joan G. Robinson, assuming this is a reference to the book) for being so open about such a disturbing subject. Anna obviously has issues with both her mental and physical health. However, I must agree that Anna was not a sympathetic figure as a result of this. Her emotions are understandable, but her behavior is unforgivable. It comes off as foolish and immature when they disclose the actual reason she treats her mother so poorly. That element makes logical since Anna is a kid, yet it irritates me. She complains that she envies Marnie and wishes she could be her instead, despite having a loving family that meets all of her requirements. Anna’s mother even tries to understand and assist her, but she simply closes down. This gets much more unsettling as it is revealed what Marnie is going through. Anna yearns for her idealized version of Marnie’s life, but Marnie’s reality is more sadder and lonely than Anna’s. The explanation for Anna’s hatred towards her parents doesn’t even come close to justifying this. This girl is a brat, and no amount of mental illness, inner anguish, or anything excuses her from being one. I pity Anna’s parents, the Oiwas, and the young girl she refers to as a “fat pig” for attempting to make friends with her.

When Marnie Was There

There was however one element of this tale that perplexed me, and that was the development of Anna and Marnie’s connection. It’s obvious from the beginning that Marnie is working on something magical. Her relationship with Anna seems to be nothing short of miraculous, both in terms of sparks flying and in terms of actual magic. I don’t normally say things like this about children’s characters, but come on. These two are treated as though they’re in love, or the teenage version of love. Their physical intimacy and sensitive attitude, as well as Marnie teaching Anna how to row and their dance sequence (and Anna’s subsequent jealousy when Marnie dances with a guy) suggest this. As the film progressed, I felt it was strange for people so young. This bothered me a lot, not because of their gender, but because of their age. When Anna and the audience discover the truth about Marnie, things become a lot worse. Anna’s grandmother, Marnie, is a ghost, an apparition of Anna’s grandmother’s youthful self. Yuck. I can only presume the characters behaved this way because the novel was written in the 1960s, when depictions of sexuality were more innocent. Perhaps cultural disparities arose as a result of the film’s production in Japan. Do straight female friends in Japan hug and pretend to be each other’s “dear secret” while dancing like this? I’m not sure, but it bothers me. This film made me uneasy, and when I went to Google to check up these two characters, I saw that they were a popular search, so I’m not alone.

When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There is a visually beautiful picture with a soaring orchestral soundtrack that is befitting of Studio Ghibli. However, I didn’t like for the characters, and the primary “relationship” disgusted me. I’m not sure how this was supposed to be a sweet, innocent relationship between two teenage girls. Anna obviously needs treatment, and after seeing this film, you will as well.

Plot – 4
8.5 for acting
Editing/Directing – 6
9 – Music/Sound
Developing Character – 7

6.9

 

When Marnie Was There is a visually beautiful picture with a soaring orchestral soundtrack that is befitting of Studio Ghibli. However, I didn’t like for the characters, and the primary “relationship” disgusted me. I’m not sure how this was supposed to be a sweet, innocent relationship between two teenage girls. Anna obviously needs treatment, and after seeing this film, you will as well.

When Marnie Was There is an upcoming game for the PS4, developed by Quantic Dream, and is due for release this spring. The game features nothing but the very best in modern game design, with immersive 3D graphics, an engrossing story, awesome dialogue, and awesome gameplay. The game also features awesome gameplay, awesome story, awesome graphics, awesome dialogue, awesome everything.. Read more about when marnie was there themes and let us know what you think.

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