07th May2018

‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ Review

by Xenia Grounds

Features the voices of: Ruby Barnhill, Jim Broadbent, Ewen Bremner, Lynda Baron, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Morwenna Banks, Teresa Gallagher, Rasmus Hardiker, Rebecca Kidd, Kate Winslet | Written by Riko Sakaguchi, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, David Freedman, Lynda Freedman | Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

mary-witch-flower-poster

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first film from Studio Ponoc. This studio is founded by Studio Ghibli veterans so the question is: Does Mary and the Witch’s Flower feel like an equal to something like a Studio Ghibli film?

The story of Mary and the Witch’s Flower is based on the children’s classic, My Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. To those unaware of its story, a young girl called Mary has moved to the countryside and she doesn’t really fit in. One day, she comes across a mysterious and rare flower that gives her magical abilities such as bringing a broomstick to life and that broomstick leads her to a magical school. Yes, it is like Harry Potter in some ways especially in regards to the school and its main child lead but My Little Broomstick was around long before that series was written. There are similarities but Mary’s relationship with magic and its conclusion is different from Harry’s but that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

Personally, I enjoyed the story of Mary and the Witch’s Flower but it does have a few flaws. It’s not a very original plot, so its predictability means that you won’t be kept in suspense about what will happen next but I think the simplicity adds to the old-fashioned and somewhat nostalgic charm. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is full of childlike wonder much like a Studio Ghibli film and once the introductions to the characters and world are over, the pacing remains pretty solid.

The animation in Mary and the Witch’s Flower is stunning and it’s evident that this has come from veterans of Ghibli. There are a dozen examples of remarkable imagery in this movie. Some of the best can be seen with the use of fire, how the flower is absorbed by Mary and when Mary uses her broomstick to take flight. Visually, the world in Mary and the Witch’s Flower feels very similar to a countryside English town which feels very lush and pastoral and that’s probably an intentional choice since the author who wrote the book is British.

The soundtrack is the strongest aspect of this movie since there are tracks in this OST that genuinely sound uplifting and moving enough to warm hearts. One of my favourites plays in the climax of the story and the other is the song played for the credits. Hearing British accents in a dub for a Japanese animated film is definitely an interesting experience since American accents are usually the norm. There’s not a lot of variety with the British voices as most of the characters’ sound like they could fit in with Downton Abbey but that’s a nitpick at best. The characters are all performed well by their actors but there’s no actor that will stand out to you.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a worthwhile watch. It’s not as emotional as a Studio Ghibli film but this is a light-hearted fantasy adventure so it doesn’t need that but if you are someone who enjoys an emotional punch in stories then this movie may disappoint in that respect. It’s simple but effective and once Mary and the Witch’s Flower hits its stride then you’ll be left with the same smile as its adorable lead.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is on limted release across the UK now.

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