See this film! That’s the most important sentence I’ll write in this review. I mean, every word you read from here on is just time wasted not watching this incredible movie, but, for those who need more convincing:
I walked into Your Name (or Kimi No Na Wa in Japan) without a clue what it might be about. I only knew that (1) the film was well-reviewed and (2) it was directed by Makoto Shinkai. Of Shinkai’s 12 directing credits, I’ve seen none. But walking in with absolutely no expectations was the best favor I could’ve done for myself. Why? Because this movie takes some wild turns throughout and I was surprised by every one of them.
In service of Shinkai’s twisting tale, I’m going to do my very best not to spoil anything here. All I’ll reveal is this paraphrased synopsis from blu-ray.com: “Two high school kids who’ve never met are united through their dreams.” (I love how little that tells you!)
From the outset, it’s like you’re seeing a cartoon for the first time. The trailers before it advertised a slew of upcoming CG/3D animated films. None of which, I can almost guarantee, will compare to Your Name and it‘s gorgeous 2D animation — a form I now realize I miss dearly. With the nearly decade-long absence of practically any 2D animation in theaters, it was easy to forget the unique texture the style brings to the screen. It’s a welcome aberration from the status quo.
I could rave about the animation until we run out of server space, but past Your Name’s technical triumphs lies a well-crafted story. The climax had me clasping my hands in nervous anticipation. The last few minutes had me guessing, “is this how it ends?” Forgive all the incredibly vague praise. I’m still doing my best not to give anything away, even if it makes for terrible writing. My point is that this movie is not predictable for even one second. There are twists, subverted clichés, and a totally original premise that serves as the foundation for a touching film.
The only thing more arresting than the sweeping, swirling plot, is the emotion packed into such an unassuming movie. The word impressionistic comes to mind. A range of feelings get stirred, until you’re left simply experiencing it. And that might be my only criticism. I worry that the intricate plot wouldn’t hold up under closer inspection. More than once, rules I took for granted were broken and new rules were invented. And that bothered me… for about a second.
Your Name doesn’t need to adhere to logic, it works without it. It’s an adventure where your heart takes the lead, and your head files behind. None of this is to say the film is free of all flaws, there’s just no sense in dwelling on them when everything else is a grand slam. When I think back on the movie, I can’t figure out why it worked for me on practically every level. No doubt part of it was the terrific pacing, the bucolic scenery, and my nostalgia for Japan (where I once lived). Still, part of its charm over me remains a mystery. I guess I was just happy to take the ride.
A roller coaster looks pretty simple when you’re waiting in line. It starts, it loops, it ends. You have to be buckled in to experience the rush. I’m usually not big on roller coasters, but I loved Your Name.