Rating: 5 out of 5
There are some movies that just slip through the cracks. For whatever reason it may be, dog is in the ER for eating several ping pong balls, a divorce, flat tires, from the smallest event to the largest, we never forget that movie we didn’t see because something came up. Your Name. the 2016 film by Makoto Shinkai was one such film for me. When it came to my local theater in Albuquerque in early 2017 I had just graduated high school and was scheduled to move twice in the next three months, the last thing on my mind was cinema. Though I remember making an effort to see this film, checking showtimes, inviting peers, no plans ever stuck. Despite this Your Name. was a title that kept coming up in conversations, no matter the circle, cinephiles and anime fans alike seemed to agree that this was a fabulous film. And it is indeed, a very, very fabulous film.
Love stories like this are one of a kind. A science fiction romance is one of the most fickle and dangerous genres, it’s a risky choice that can pay off big when it works. Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but then think of 2016’s ill-fated Passengers. If you have seen both recalling them side by side will induce two wildly different sensations. Such is the volatile nature of the sci-fi romance, it’s the hardest genre to balance. Shinkai is no stranger to the genre with previous efforts like The Place Promised in Our Early Days and 5 Centimeters Per Second, but here he attains a new level of focus and clarity. The film initially is designed to confuse, it’s not until moments, instances and events begin repeating themselves that the themes and narrative begin to take shape.
Which is why I have been so sparse on the details. This story is about a man named Taki and a woman, Mitsuha, who find themselves connected to each other in a strange way. To say anymore would be a shame, every reveal and plot device in this film is so necessary, so essential, the pacing of the information is almost musical in satisfaction, it crescendos at all the right moments. Not to mention the extraordinary cinematography, there are very few anime’s where scenes are as thoughtfully framed as these. The film teeters on overbearing, every scene is so charged with emotion and passion but Your Name. never feels contrived or cheap the tone is honest and receptive towards the natural flow of the story.
This movie requires a fairly large suspension of disbelief and in some ways it edges closer towards the fantasy than the sci-fi genre. Often times in sci-fi things are explained, everything has a source, I believe this is where the loosely attributed “science” tag comes from. Fantasy however doesn’t need to explain itself unless it wants to, Tolkien choose to make a dense backstory for The Lord of the Rings, but even in its absence, the audience wouldn’t struggle to comprehend the rings powers. The mystical aspects of this plot are never really expanded upon, at least not in exposition, but this allows Your Name. to achieve significant metaphorical resonance.
Our are connections between each other really powerful enough to stop a cataclysmic event? Usually not, but they are more important and for this reason just might be stronger. It does not make the Interstellar mistake of presenting love as a force that can conquer time but more simply that the two are inextricable. There is no past, present, or future for any of us without the presence of love, it barrels through space and time, always finding us before we find it.