DVD Review: FROM UP ON POPPY HILL

PrintE-mail Written by Zachary Fox

From Up on Poppy Hill Review

Review: From Up on Poppy Hill / Cert: U / Director: Goro Miyazaki / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Sarah Bolger, Anton Yelchin, Chris Noth / Release Date: Out Now

Goro Miyazaki may have the least enviable job in cinema. His father, Hayao, is effectively the grand wizard of all things animated and glorious and following his act must be like competing with the sun in a ‘be hot’ competition. Tale of Earthsea was a shaky debut, but with the Old Master laying down his sword next year, it’s up to his son to pick up the family mantle. From Up on Poppy Hill marks a confident stride in the right direction.

There’s something uniquely heartwarming about a Ghibli film. Outside of their obvious and abundant outward beauty – all lush, bright colours and vivid aesthetics – there’s an infectious sense of life. Poppy Hill excels on a technical level, not just in a calculating pragmatic sense, but in the legitimately heartwarming, ‘I’m smiling like a goofball’ way too.

The scene tracking lead protagonist Umi (Bolger) and her friend as they first explore their school clubhouse is beguiling in its clarity of vision; with snapshots of barmy, idiosyncratic characters and a backdrop of chaotic academia all set to a jaunty jazzy tune, it crafts an utterly intriguing cinematic experience.

This is a more intimate and grounded tale than Ghibli’s norm, leaving the fantasy worlds and beasties behind. The focus here is on teenage love and relationships in 1960s post-war Japan, centred on Umi and mystery sailor’s boy Shun (Yelchin) as they come together in saving their school’s historical clubhouse from demolition. But that isn’t to say it lacks that sense of heartfelt whimsy that so characterizes the beloved studio.

The universe of adolescence is a hard thing to get right in cinema, often laughably mishandled, but Poppy Hill isn’t afraid to pay its respects with characters who at once feel real and change believably, guided by a skilled script littered with vivid voices. A few particular images and scenes are rather ham-fisted – those dream sequences, oh dear – but they’re a fleeting irritation at worst.

Poppy Hill’s is a soft touch, slow burning and it never really starts to boil. It’s an exercise in restraint and nuance, and while it may miss the mark on occasion – there’s a deus ex machina at play here – it develops like one of the jazzy piano tracks that so enlivens its score; ostensibly beautiful and full of life, with a depth of character for those willing to open their ears (or eyes) and find it.

There may be no real stakes at play – it’s forever destined for Ye Olde Land of Happily Ever After - but that’s beside the point. Poppy Hill commands its niche with all the authority and charm you could hope for from a Ghibli production. Goro’s well on his way.

Extras: None



Suggested Articles:
Described by Samuel Beckett himself as an “interesting failure”, the 21-minute Film is the Nobel
She’s back! Evil is reborn as Samara, the creepy dead kid in a well who crawls out of the TV scree
Let’s face it; if you choose to watch Headshot then you’re not here for the strength of narrativ
Don Bluth was part of the Disney Animation division who helped conceive and create the likes of some
scroll back to top

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in DVD / Blu-ray Reviews

FILM / NOTFILM 23 May 2017

RINGS 22 May 2017

HEADSHOT 21 May 2017

AN AMERICAN TAIL 21 May 2017

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS 20 May 2017

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE 20 May 2017

POWER RANGERS DINO CHARGE: UNLEASHED (VOLUME 1) 20 May 2017

YU-GI-OH! THE MOVIE: DARK SIDE OF DIMENSIONS 20 May 2017

RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO 19 May 2017

IDLE HANDS 19 May 2017

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner