When Marnie Was There

This bittersweet gem may be Studio Ghibli's final film for the foreseeable future

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 23 May 2016
  • When Marnie Was There
Film title: When Marnie Was There
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Starring: (English voice cast) Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Geena Davis, Kathy Bates, John C. Reilly, Catherine O'Hara, Ellen Burstyn
Release date: 10 Jun
Certificate: U

When Marnie Was There is being billed as the final in-house film from animation giant Studio Ghibli. A European co-production, The Red Turtle, has just premiered at Cannes but Marnie is, for the foreseeable future, the last full feature to come entirely from the Japanese studio.

The previous Ghibli film from director Hiromasa Yonebayashi was Arrietty, based on Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, and Marnie is similarly based on the work of a late English author who wrote for children, this time Joan G. Robinson. A far cry from the fanciful set-pieces of Spirited Away, this tale still flirts with the fantastical – even the Gothic – with its story of a troubled adolescent becoming obsessed with an abandoned mansion and the similarly aged girl who lives there; a girl who may be a spirit from decades past. If this is indeed a farewell for the studio, it’s fitting that this modest, bittersweet treat is so concerned with deriving strength from the past.


When Marnie Was There will screen in both English language and Japanese versions

Released by StudioCanal