1252. Whisper Of The Heart (耳をすませば) (1995)

7.8 An absolute delight
  • Acting 7.6
  • Directing 7.9
  • Story 7.9
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Starring: Youko Honna, Issei Takahashi, Takashi Tachibana

Director: Yoshifumi Kondô

Running Time: 111 mins

Whisper Of The Hear is a Japanese film about a young girl who loves reading books and stories, and her own adventure attempting to find the boy who has checked out all the books she’s read in the library before her.

This is a really nice film. It’s one of those Studio Ghibli productions that isn’t too heavy on fantasy or emotion, and just gives you a simple, enjoyable and pleasant story of real life, in this case, a wonderful coming-of-age tale in suburban Tokyo.

Following young Shizuku as she is unexpectedly drawn into a story just like the ones she reads in her favourite books, I had a huge grin on my face from start to finish in Whisper Of The Heart. It’s not an emotionally draining or overly dramatic story, but one that focusses entirely on the positives of both childhood and growing up, as we see Shizuku deal with her problems not by complaining and suffering, but trying as hard as she can to be a better person, which was absolutely wonderful to see.

It’s also a film that’s very easy to relate to. It combines the wonder of childhood nostalgia with all of the obstacles that everyone faces growing up, and that allows you to really care for Shizuku and her friends as they take on this part of life. However, it’s the fact that this film puts that positive spin on coming of age that makes it ultimately such a pleasant and enjoyable film.

Meanwhile, there’s so much more that helps to make this an even more serene and sweet watch. For one, the music in this film is excellent. There’s the usual soft Ghibli backing score that does a great job at creating a peaceful atmosphere in so many scenes, but what really makes this special is its use of a Japanese version of the classic American song: ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’.

Playing on a few special occasions throughout the film, it gives a wonderful continuity throughout this period in this young girl’s life, whilst also making the film yet again even more delightful to watch.

Of course, the animation is absolutely spectacular, painting a beautiful picture of suburban Tokyo, particularly the small town on the top of the hill where much of Shizuku’s adventure takes place. Thanks to the astonishing hand-painted backgrounds, this small village feels magical, almost as if it were part of a fairytale.

Now, this isn’t a perfect film. Although it’s a movie that you can watch and forget absolutely all your worries by having such a pleasant time, it’s neither the most emotionally engaging story ever. Like I said earlier, emotional impact isn’t the principal objective of this story, but there are still parts where it did feel like it was missing out on some emotional drama, making the film as a whole feel a little lighter than was intended.

That said, however, I loved Whisper Of The Heart. It’s a hugely sweet and enjoyable tale about growing up that looks at the world in a positive way, and if you’re not smiling at every moment here, you’re likely not human. So, overall, I’ll give this a 7.8.


About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com