THE BOY AND THE HERON
Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Aimyon, Yoshino Kimura, Shōhei Hino, Ko Shibasaki, Takuya Kimura, Jun Kunimura, and Kaoru Kobayashi
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki's latest feature, The Boy and the Heron, is another wonder from the legendary filmmaker, but one that unfortunately falls just short of greatness. Like Miyazaki's other films, the animation is stunning to look at, with every single frame a sight to behold as it takes you to a universe that shows Miyazaki's imagination holds no equal. While its themes of grief are well written, the film throws a bit too much at the viewer to get the message across, making the film less thought-provoking and more overwhelming. It’s another win for Miyazaki, but not amongst his best.
While The Boy and the Heron is another captivating film by Hayao Miyazaki, I can’t help but feel that its themes missed the mark for me. It just wasn’t as compelling as his previous works, and it relies heavily on beats similar to those from his other films instead of bringing something new to the table. Still, it’s visually spectacular (as usual) and quite funny at times, but it's tonally inconsistent, with Joe Hisaishi’s score ultimately elevating the film’s emotional beats.
I’ve always admired director Hayao Miyazaki’s films more than I’ve actually enjoyed them, and The Boy and the Heron is no exception. The animation is a feast for the eyes, but the story is severely disjointed. The characters are weak, the world-building is muddled, and the pacing is genuinely bad. I’m sure there are layers to peel back and analyze here, but it’s all too abstract for its own good. There isn’t a strong enough narrative on the surface to spark any curiosity about the hidden meanings or subtext below. I had high hopes, but this is easily Miyazaki’s least coherent effort.
This film was reviewed by Adriano and Paige as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2023 New York Film Festival, respectively.