Your NameLondon Film Festival 2016
14th October 2016 6.00pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
15th October 2016 12.00pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
16th October 2016 6.15pm at Ritzy Cinema
Satoshi Kon is dead, Hayao Miyazaki is retired and Isao Takahata sticks to producing, all of which leaves anime wandering like an abandoned horse. Several have tried to seize the reins, namely When Marnie Was There’s director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Wolf Children’s Mamoru Hosoda and Miyazaki Jr himself, Goro. But few have made quite the same impression as Makoto Shinkai, whose lush visual landscapes have led him to be labelled as “the next Miyazaki”. He isn’t, and he never will be – though his latest offering does show that he’s becoming a capable filmmaker in his own right.
Your Name is an outlandish metaphysical romance, whose aspirations of grandeur are tempered by a bawdy sense of humour and a warm attitude towards its characters. The story follows Mitsuha and Taki, a teenage girl in a small mountain town and a teenage boy in the centre of Tokyo respectively. One day, they wake up in each other’s bodies; the next day, they’re back in their own, and so on. After overcoming initial confusion, they begin to navigate the ups and downs of shared life and gender. As in Western takes like Freaky Friday and It’s a Boy Girl Thing, the situation is mined, effectively, for humour. Mitsuha and Taki learn about the sometimes mortifying behaviour of their possessor through scribbled notes and confused remarks from classmates. Needless to say, there are recurring jokes about genitals.
Shinkai’s previous film, The Garden of Words, was insufferably earnest, intent on showing us relentlessly pretty landscapes at the expense of probing the creepy romance between a teacher and a student. Your Name benefits from some distance. The images are still very pretty, with techniques involving focal lengths and detail giving the film a realistic aesthetic rather than a beautiful one. Yet by providing a rounded portrait of the two lovers, and by ruminating on themes of memory and transience, the film has enough on its mind to justify its picturesque detours.
A daft twist late in the tale, as well as an excess of over-explanatory dialogue, bombastic music and cheesy melodrama, does detract from the experience. The further Shinkai moves from the everyday to the epic, the more he loses control; some restraint would have gone a long way. It is a shame that, like most body-swap films, there’s little discussion about gender and identity, but as a crowd-pleasing animated pop ballad, Your Name just about works.
Your Name is released nationwide on 18th November 2016.
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Watch the trailer for Your Name here: