When Marnie Was There ★★★★★

In this world, there is an invisible magic circle...

As if under a spell, I could barely move for this film's entire duration.

Few pieces of art evoke feelings as affecting as When Marnie Was There does for me. Every expression and movement makes my heart break or swell. Anna’s character is arrestingly painful, and animated expertly by details that could only be inserted with real empathy, and sometimes, only visible to those who truly empathize.

The film contains themes of self-doubt, self-hate, depression and anxiety, but overpowers them with so much love and hope. The relationship between Anna and Marnie is a tangible and unforgettable bond, transcending generations, reality, dreams, and even life and death. The way they interact, their hugs and expressions when they look at each other, it’s undeniably real to me. The subtleties in their animation have always been strong, but this is Ghibli at their richest. Everything is sincerely and beautifully detailed.

The first time I watched this I balled the entire way through. The power in the story and characters overwhelms me and feels uniquely therapeutic. I have a small collection of art that affects me like this, and I revisit pieces from it every now and then, beckoned by desire or necessity. This set is precious to me, and I hold them all close to my heart, while carefully not returning to any too often, for fear I will let the lightning out of the bottle. Somehow, I feel like the lightning will never be lost for When Marnie Was There.