Movie Review: Arrietty

By Russell Baillie

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Human boy Shawn (voice of David Henrie) is astonished when he visits the garden and discovers Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler).  Photo / Supplied
Human boy Shawn (voice of David Henrie) is astonished when he visits the garden and discovers Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler). Photo / Supplied

If you've become enchanted by the earlier works of Japanese anime masters Studio Ghibli, then Arriety - also known as The Secret World of Arrietty - might seem a bit on the sensible side.

Or if you've been raised on a diet of high-paced animation from the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks, you might this a bit wistful.

True, it has almost none of the sprawling trippiness that has marked the work of Hayao Miyazaki - Ghibli's own Walt Disney - in past international hits like Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away.

And it sure takes its own good time in its story-telling.

But if this one's strictly for patient kids there's a good reason - it's yet another screen adaptation of Mary Norton's classic kids' novel The Borrowers, about little people who live under the floorboards and come out at night to "borrow" stuff.

This one, which Miyazaki co-wrote and which comes dubbed by various Brit voices, is set in a Japanese country house where young Shawn awaits a vital heart operation.

One night he spots Arrietty, the daughter of the family of little folk and the pair strike up an uneasy secret friendship.

It might run a little slow and get a little shrill but this still offers an unhurried time to bask in all those rich, hand-drawn textures while taking in the film's outsized world from the Borrowers' bonsai perspective.

Stars: 4/5
Voices: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, Phyllida Law
Director: Yonebayashi Hiromasa
Rating: G
Running time: 94 mins
Verdict: Bonsai take on kids classic

- NZ Herald

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