Garden of Words

Rating: 3.5

SHINKAI Makoto (新海 誠) became famous a decade ago with Voices of a Distant Star (Hoshi no Koe ほしのこえ), a short (25 minutes) about a long distance relationship (across interstellar space and relativistic time distortions).

He went on to write and direct longer movies (The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 雲のむこう, 約束の場所, 2004; 5 Centimeters per Second, 秒速5センチメートル, 2007; Journey to Agartha, 星を追う子ども, 2011), trying with various levels of success to keep the attention of the characters' emotions and inner stories, more than on the overall plot and action.

With "Garden of words" (言の葉の庭), Shinkai returns to a shorter form, which I have to say seems to be more congenial to him: his longer movies felt slow and diluted, and it was hard for me to stay engaged (ok, "5 centimeters per second" should probably be counted as three shorts instead of a long movie, but I honestly had problems staying awake during the first one). A 15-year-old boy skips the first few hours of school when it rains, spending the time in the Gyoen park in Shinjuku, designing shoes. Yes, he wants to be a shoemaker when he grows up, and he's already made a pair of moccasins for himself. In the park, he meets an older woman, who seems to have some problems she doesn't talk about: she eats chocolate and drinks beer, she reads, and not much else. They start talking to each other, and this will help both of them to grow and overcome their problems.

As I said, the story is not much, but the gorgeous quality of the picture, the subtle music, and the impressive voice acting carry the work perfectly. If you like Shinkai's work, you don't need any prompting; if you had given up on him after Agartha, Garden may make you think again: I know it did to me.

This review was originally published at:
DatesCreated: 2015-03-08 16:15:39 Last modification: 2023-02-10 12:45:24