Hiroyuki Okiura's LETTER TO MOMO
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
What a lovely, gentle, and funny film this is! It’s long (two hours) but well worth the time for children and adults with some patience.
The story outline rather simple and a bit familiar: young Momo and her recently widowed mom move from the big city to a rural Japanese island to begin life anew. Momo deeply misses her late dad. She is silently tormented by a letter her dad began to write to her after the argument they had the last time she saw him alive.
The letter starts, “Dear Momo.” That’s all. What was he going to say, she wonders? Her young mind is tormented by this. Things aren’t helped by moving to a strange new place where there doesn’t seem to be anything to do all day while her mom is away.
Then she starts hearing strange sounds in the attic. Thus start the adventures.
It’s not a fast-moving film. The story unfolds. Much of the humor is subtle but occasionally punctuated by laugh out loud silliness.
This may not appeal to action oriented fans or those who like things fast-paced. What the movie does have in abundance are heart, sensitivity, and absolutely gorgeous animation.
And I do mean gorgeous. Rural seaside Japanese scenery is lush and beautifully painted. Cityscapes and vehicles look real. But it’s the people in the many close-ups of different facial expressions that shine in this animated film.
Yes, it does sometimes remind one of a Miyazaki film, but it stands on its own.
My only complaint: the streaming version I saw was dubbed in English. The dubbing is excellent, some of the best I’ve heard in a Japense animated film, but I would still prefer to hear the original Japanese with English subtitles.
Movie review copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald