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When Marnie Was There

The legendary Japanese animator Hiyao Miyazaki is retired, but Studio Ghibli still reflects his influence. The Secret World of Arietty director Hiromasa Yonebayashi adapted Joan G. Robinson’s 1967 novel, one of 50 children’s books recommended by Miyazaki, for the studio’s final (for now) film. 

Young Anna is a foster child struggling to fit in. Her mother sends her to live with relatives in the country, where Anna becomes fascinated by a rundown mansion and Marnie, the pretty blonde girl haunting her dreams. Who is Marnie? Though this central mystery drives the deliberately paced, beautifully animated film, its resolution is less intriguing than alternative explanations. Robinson’s tale may have aged past its target audience, while not quite being mature enough for adults. A serious child with a penchant for Ghibli’s work could be enthralled, but this animated film might not hold the attention of kids expecting the rambunctiousness of a Hollywood cartoon. The English language version features the voicework of Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld and Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper).