Feb. 20, 2013 - Issue #905: DOA No more - Trading in punk for politics
Whisper of the Heart
There's almost none of the open spaces or fantasy in most of Miyazaki's work; this urban film cuts deep into an aspiring artist's innermost doubts. And if Whisper of the Heart sounds like a girl's romance, it is, but almost entirely avoids what that girl, Shizuku, worries her writing is—"corny." (To North American ears, at least, the overuse of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" is corny.) Enlivened by a vital sense of the lulling, languorous summer break in the city for a 14-year-old girl, then simmering with the pressure of Japan's school-culture—junior-high exam results determine high school placement and one's career path—this film's also about what Kondō knew well: apprenticeship, patient dedication to craft and nurturing friendship with other artists.
After noticing the same male name on the check-out slips of many of her library books, avid reader Shizuku's led to an antique shop by a cat—the padding feline's brought her to the place, in a hillside neighbourhood overlooking Tokyo, where Seiji, the boy-borrower, works as a violin-maker. His hopes to apprentice in Italy inspire Shizuku to pen a fantasy-novel.
Kondo's sensitivity to emotional-rhythm and to quiet is finely tuned. Shizuku's private determination, lapses of faith in her talent, and budding devotion to a life's work (and a life of work—the young teens here make North American twentysomethings look like slackers) spur the story on. Her worry that "I'm not good enough" is even more stirring than the romance, a bond between two naïve, creative souls. And, all the more poignantly because of Kondō's fate, his film ends with a glowing belief in what-will-be.
Sat, Feb 23 (9:30 pm); Sun, Feb 24 (2:15 pm); Mon, Feb 25 (7 pm)
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
Directed by: Yoshifumi Kondō
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