I have a buddy who tells me that I give too many movies a pass. And what I mean by that, is that he thinks that I'm not critical enough on movies that he thinks are "inferior." Hey, I fully admit that I sometimes just want to be entertained. And there are plenty of movies that most people would consider "bad" that I can find enjoyment in. But the other side of that coin is that when I inundate myself with mediocre or just "good" movies, I sometimes worry that I won't be able to recognize a great one when I come across it. But then I watch a movie like Your Name, and that fear goes away.
Your Name is a Japanese animated film about two teenagers, Taki and Mitsuha. Taki lives in Tokyo and Mitsuha lives in a small village. One day they discover that they will randomly wake up in each others body. There are the obvious jokes to get out of the way as they are both teenagers. But what happens over the course of the film is that each of them leaves messages for the other in order to make the transformations easier on one another.
And this is a nifty little set up, with some nice character development, and a way for each character to have an experience that's completely foreign to them be less frightening and more eye-opening. But that's not what makes this a great film. No. What makes this a great film is the larger canvas of life that this picture paints. The interconnectedness of the universe. Time travel. Friends who will do anything for each other at the drop of a hat, and it's no big deal. Love that grows steadily. You know - life.
This is a world that's made all the more beautiful because it's animated. It's very grounded, but some of the larger world situations are enhanced by the film's ability to go places a regular film couldn't. And the emotions that the film is able to elicit are that much stronger when the characters are that much more expressive.
I'm writing with a lot of hyperbole, and I apologize. But the movie really was a tremendous surprise. And I'm being somewhat cagey in terms of plot, because about halfway/two-thirds of the way through something happens that changes where the story goes. What's interesting about the turn, is that up until that time, we, as the viewer, really have no idea where the film is going. And then we do. We really, really do. And the film pounces on that revelation and hurtles us along with abandon.
It hits all the notes it's supposed to. It's funny, it's thoughtful, it's suspenseful, and it's touching. It makes me happy that I can still recognize a great film when I see one.