CinemaClown’s review published on Letterboxd:
Affectionately crafted, mesmerisingly told & gorgeously animated, The Secret World of Arrietty (simply known as Arrietty) is the best Studio Ghibli feature-length film that wasn't directed by Hayao Miyazaki. An extremely underrated masterwork of staggering beauty, it is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting works of animation to surface on the film canvas.
Based on the children's book The Borrowers by Mary Norton, the story of Arrietty concerns its titular character & her family; a group of tiny people on the brink of extinction who live anonymously in human residents & have made their home by borrowing simple items from their households. But things are set in motion when Arrietty is discovered by a human boy.
Co-written by Hayao Miyazaki & directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi in what is his directional debut, Arrietty exhibits an astonishing level of craftsmanship from the first frame to the last plus the fully-realised world of borrowers is brought to life with remarkable care, intimacy & attention to detail. All the characters here are well-defined & the voice cast is wisely chosen as well.
The hand-drawn animation is brilliantly executed for Arrietty is one of Studio Ghibli's most colourful works & makes vibrant use of the available palette, resulting in every frame being finely balanced in both hues & texture. Editing is smartly carried out too for the story unfolds in an elegant, smooth manner & showcases an excellent sense of pacing throughout its 95 minutes of runtime.
And last but not the least is the background score by Cécile Corbel that turned this already magical experience into an even more delightful, heartwarming & enriching one. Music in my opinion has the ability to make or break a film for it is the soul of most narratives and in case of Arrietty, the flavours, heart, warmth & magic its storyline resonates all the time has a lot to do with this very aspect.
On an overall scale, The Secret World of Arrietty is a spellbinding work of its genre that has a very sweet, tender & graceful quality about it and is a cinematic delight for viewers of all ages. Plus, for a first time director, it's a highly impressive start & it's gonna be interesting to see where he goes from here. Another fabulous piece of fantasy from Studio Ghibli that's enjoyable, entertaining, emotionally fulfilling & effortlessly relatable, Arrietty comes strongly recommended.