|The Place Promised in Our Early Days - Reviewed||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
The Place Promised in Our Early Days
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi, Slice of Life
Produced: ADV Films
Makoto Shinkai's first work, Voices of a Distant Star, is a classic, impressive on both artistic and technical levels. On it's meager budget, it questioned the nature of love, inspired, and stood as the pinnacle of a growing do-it-yourself animation culture. Now with a bigger studio , Shinkai expands on whether love could transcend time and space: Can love truly transcend reality?
The Place Promised in Our Early Days
is Shinkai's directorial followup to the excellent debut, Voices of a
Distant Star. Japan, in his revisionist vision, was split into two
halves following World War II, the Union and one controlled by the
United States. Three junior high school students spend their days
dreaming of reaching single ivory tower across the border that seems
to connect the earth and heaven like a single piece of white thread.
The film follows these students
through a set of three periods as they grow older. What begins as a
coming-of-age adventure tale, soon mutates into a quasi science
fiction psychological drama. Shinkai is no stranger to science
fiction. Voices of Distant Star used the elements of the genre to
give it an emotional gravitas. The Place Promised in Our Days however
lets it get in the way, it's logic muddling the underlying romance.
Part of the problem lies with the
script, which emphasizes drawn out monologues filled with teenage
angst. The writing avoids any sort of subtlety, either hitting us
over the head with its mythos or the philosophical crises of the
characters. Shinkai seemed to benefit from the shorter format of
Voices, where each word of dialogue had to be deliberate. When
writing any sort of narrative, my 9 grade English
teacher told me, 'Show, don't tell' a piece of advice the director
But for all it's flaws, the charm the
characters exude and the innocence of the love story makes it hard to
dislike. Its easy to identify with the fundamental themes of
friendship, separation and isolation. I praise this movie on making a
bold statement on the power of platonic relationships and taking the
romance genre to an abstract frontier.
The production though, surpasses
Shinkai's debut in almost every aspect. Creatively, it dips its
fingers into the unreal, painting dreamscapes in incongruous shapes
and dark shadows while interesting use of color gives traditional
settings of fields and cities personality. The vivid colors of
childhood provide a stark contrast to the brooding hues of
adolescence. There is a strong sense of atmosphere. Even static
scenes are brought to life by small flourishes: rustling blades of
grass, subtle lighting tricks and a watercolor palette.
Sound production follows suit, with an
excellent orchestral soundtrack. The theme, a simple melody of a
single violin, is both evocative of the movie's charm and memorable.
Hidetaka Yoshioka, Yuuka Nanri, and Masota Hagiwara do an excellent
job of capturing the angst of their characters. On the dubbed
frontier I must commend Chris Patton for his performance. His
delivery is natural even when dealing with the scripts more long
winded speeches. Although, the same can't be said for the rest of the
cast who have seem to show a lack of enthusiasm.
The Place Promised in Our Early Days if anything is ambitious. Makoto Shinkai's aspirations to weave a competent science fiction narrative into story of childhood sweethearts is commendable. While he isn't able to mesh these two genres into a cohesive tale, this film still has an ability to draw you in from its breathtaking production. We never reach the place where this director intially promises, but he makes one hell of an effort.