From Up on Poppy Hill Screen 9 articles

From Up on Poppy Hill

2011

From Up on Poppy Hill Poster
  • ...[Goro Miyazaki's] second feature, From Up on Poppy Hill, is a step forward for the director, but it still carries a nagging sense of imbalance. Once again, the animation is top-notch, but even though the director's legendary father, Hayao Miyazaki, has adapted the film's script, the plot—and the clumsy handling of its emotionally cathartic moments—seems to drag the rest of the work down.

  • It’s ultimately a tame, safe film despite the surprisingly taboo complications to the young love that are introduced, but one that has its charms. The question now of whether or not Goro Miyazaki is to carve out as memorable a place for himself as his father remains to be seen.

  • Slow turns to creaky (it's a fine line), delicate turns to undernourished, great-to-be-young gushing sounds sentimental (Hayao Miyazaki is 72) and the coda - which could've been a tearjerker - turns out to be somewhat irrelevant in narrative terms (the only emotional shift happens to a character we've only just met), which is typical of the film's half-assed quality

  • The film’s primary delights derive from its immaculate visual craftsmanship and the sensual fluidity of its animation. Look out for Umi’s chopping board when she’s preparing cabbage to eat with tempura: it’s dinted and scuffed with knife scores. It’s a microscopic piece of detailing which isn’t in any way pushed to the fore, yet it satisfyingly encapsulates the film’s underlying... ideology of cherishing products, places and people to the end of their natural lives and beyond.

  • It’s the sort of movie that can prompt daydreams about inhabiting its world of flowers and hills, passing ships and harbor lights, where there’s no Internet and romance happens face to face.

  • Given [Goro] Miyazaki’s nostalgic bent, a soft landing is guaranteed. But as with John Ford, whose beloved folk song “Red River Valley” makes a cameo, a longing for yesteryear is not a blank check. Our collective backstory defines us, for good and for ill; to know it is to know ourselves.

  • "It's right out of a cheap melodrama," one character remarks in From up on Poppy Hill, after a particularly extreme twist of fate—yet this film's gentle storytelling manages to extract the emotional payoffs of melodrama without ruining one's suspension of disbelief.

  • The film maintains an optimistic tone without succumbing to nostalgia, and as always with Studio Ghibli, the company Miyazaki cofounded in the 80s, the hand-drawn animation is gorgeous.

  • While Goro Miyazaki was not yet a gleam in his father’s eye in 1964, he brings emotional freshness and a winning simplicity to this lovely little period fable, which was released on a small scale in New York a few weeks ago and has turned into the season’s sleeper family-audience hit. “From Up on Poppy Hill” can’t quite match the greatest of the Ghibli films, but it makes clear that there’s plenty of magic left in the Miyazaki family.