Monday, December 16, 2013

Film Review: From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)

From Up On Poppy Hill (Review)
Japan/2011
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

" It's a great change of pace..."

Umi Matsuzaki is a hardworking 16 year old girl taking care of her siblings as well as the housework while her mother is away. Shun Kazama is a member of the high school journalism club where he and Umi form a strong bond...

From Up On Poppy Hill is a simple yet emotionally effective story. Umi and Shun develop a friendship that just might turn into more when they begin to work together to stop the demolition of the Quartier Latin -- an old, beat-up building that houses the high school's many clubs. They begin to suade the student body into protecting the building by fixing together. Meanwhile, Umi and Shun's relationships takes surprising turns as their characters are further developed. The ending of the film is genuinely heartwarming and reassuring -- a staple for Ghibli films.

The story is great. As previously stated, it's simple but engaging and entertaining. I'd liken it to a coming-of-age film, although not exactly, and we don't see many of those nowadays. It's a great change of pace, although it can be too slow at times. Regardless, every character has life -- you can connect to the characters and actually share feelings. And, the entire "fix up the building"-project feels genuine, despite leading to a predictable resolution. I also really enjoyed the lighthearted humor in the film, it blends nicely with the deep drama. From Up On Poppy Hill is a peaceful and entertaining film -- a film with great heart and life.

I enjoyed the Japanese voice acting. As usual, it captures a wide range of emotion and transmits it to the audience well -- I can actually feel the happiness, the sadness, the enthusiasm, and the anxiety, and so on. The visuals are lavish, really capturing the era with great accuracy and beautiful color. The music is also very effective, truly an amazing soundtrack that can really hit the right emotions. The screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa is great, and GorĊ Miyazaki's direction continues to show great promise.

Overall, From Up On Poppy Hill is a very effective and entertaining drama. It's not what most expect from Studio Ghibli, but it carries the same life and passion as the films that came before it. From the beautiful story to it's incredible technical aspects, From Up On Poppy Hill is strongly recommended.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: The film is safe for the entire family, although some themes of death and loss are prevalent.

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