PATEMA INVERTED

PrintE-mail Written by Adam Starkey

BLU-RAY REVIEW: PATEMA INVERTED / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: YASUHIRO YOSHIURA / SCREENPLAY: YASUHIRO YOSHIURA / STARRING: YUKIYO FUJII, NOBUHIKO OKAMOTO, SHINTARO OOHATA, SHINYA FUKUMATSU / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 15TH

Judging by the premise, Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s latest anime feature looked destined to float into cliché. Here we have two civilisations, bound together back-to-back with conflicting gravitational pulls like opposite sides of a coin. Deep underground lies the home of Patema, a young girl whose love for exploration takes her across the forbidden border to the world above. Here she meets Age, a boy who takes it upon himself to look after Patema so she isn’t pulled upwards into the sky, risking his own life against the authorities who condemn her ‘sinner’ existence and want her captured.

At a basic level, it’s a fairly elaborate setup for a classic Romeo & Juliet love story, with the opposing gravity hammering the distinctions between the two groups even further home. In lesser hands, this might have descended into unbearable physics-based cheese with a limp supply of subtlety. Yoshiura, however, rises above the clichés through mind-bending visuals and some sharp writing which keeps the characters grounded even when they’re literally soaring above the clouds.

Perhaps the leanest trick in Patema Inverted is its shifting perspectives. As their paths cross, the camera often spins upside down between Patema and Age’s vision. It’s a simple trick wonderfully executed, helping you understand the fear characters have as they enter the opposite landscapes while consistently delivering a unique visual splendour. A comical heist break-in sequence midway through particularly stands out, where the twisting perspectives and gravity pulls are utilised to full effect for some hilariously inspired moments.

It helps that the film is visually breathtaking without the camera bending hijinks. From the stunning skyline ascents to the claustrophobic environments of the underground, everything here is a pleasure to watch no matter the angle you’re given. Yoshiura’s eye for a cinematic moment coming into its own when the pair take flight, with the sprawling vistas popping from the beautiful lighting effects.

While the story presents few surprises with an ending which is perhaps a little too ambiguous, when it’s so enjoyably spun and well-oiled as this, it’s easy to forgive. The cast of characters are smartly written, the emotional beats sing when they need to, and the unique visuals provide a memorably fresh overcoat. If you’re craving an anime feature outside the golden parameters of Studio Ghibli, you could do far worse than Patema Inverted.

Special Features: Audio commentary / Interviews / Special Messages to UK fans from the director / UK trailers
 

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