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Where has my Toothbrush Gone?
on 30 April 2012
`The Borrowers' is a classic British tale about tiny people that live in our homes `borrowing' things to survive. `Arrietty' represents Studio Ghibli's take on the novel and it is not the first time they have adapted Brit fiction into film, see `Howl's Moving Castle'. Whilst `Howl' was a visual feast with plenty of odd antics, `Arrietty' is somewhat of a feast, but you can't quite help still feeling hungry afterwards.
`Arrietty' follows the premise of the original text closely, but moves the action to Japan. Visually the film is fantastic; the hand drawings are spectacular and look even better in crystal clear high definition. However, the rest of the film is nowhere near as comparable to the look of the film. The storyline is stripped back to an almost non-existent state - not much happens and when it does it is all over too fast. It is like Ghibli had some ideas for stunning set pieces in mind, but did not actually want a story to link them. The voice acting is also a little bland, common for Ghibli films, but more so than ever here with Mark Strong being particularly bad (usually a very good actor). Finally, the character of Haru seems bizarre. Whilst most retellings of `The Borrowers' have a bad guy after the little people for potential profit, in `Arrietty' Haru is just plain mental and has no real motive.
By the end you realize that `Arrietty' is the film equivalent of a soufflé, all fur coat and no storyline. It passes the time merely as an exercise in beautiful aesthetics, but from a studio that usually provides great heart as well, `Arrietty' just feels dull. This film is worth watching for fans of the studio as there is enough to look at to keep you interested, but younger children may not be quite as spellbound with the slow story and dull voice work.
There are a couple of extras on the BluRay, some showing the US/UK rerecording of voice work, whilst other subtitled from the original Japanese. As mentioned the animation is wonderful and does look better in HD.