The Secret World of Arrietty (2010): A Looking Closer Film Forum

A Looking Closer Film Forum is an evolving “conversation” among critics… a “round-table” review of perspectives from critics I regularly consult as I revise my list of viewing priorities. I haven’t seen the film yet, but these reviews have intrigued me.

Check back from time to time, as I may add more reviews to the list.

The Secret World of Arrietty

  • Glenn Kenny (Some Came Running) raves, “It’s always great to see an animated film that’s pitched at kids but doesn’t pander to them. As is always the case with films from this studio, there isn’t a Smash Mouth song within 100 miles of these proceedings. And its modulations are a welcome break from the freneticism usually associated with such fare. While it doesn’t offer much in the way of “sophisticated” content for adults, it brings something much more valuable, really: genuine aesthetic bliss.”
  • Steven Greydanus (National Catholic Register) says, “The Secret World of Arrietty just might change the way you look at the world around you — right around you. A wide-eyed sense of discovery and revelation permeates the film, and what it reveals is … the mystery and wonder of an ordinary home.”
  • Tasha Robinson (AV Club) writes, “Arrietty … consistently manages the hat trick of making the world look simultaneously familiar and enticingly alien. That duality is at the heart of Studio Ghibli’s films, which so often access the purest joys of life without slathering on the sentiment or denying its occasional grimness. And like the best of them, Arrietty is nuanced enough to acknowledge how good intentions can be as damaging as bad ones, yet simple enough to take bittersweet pleasure in every aspect of life, whether happy or sad, just because it exists. The studio’s films are about journeys—some of them on a large scale, some tiny and internal. Arrietty cleverly manages both at once.”
  • Jesse Cataldo (Slant): “Life lessons are imparted with startling tenderness, the inevitable separateness of humanity and nature is gently reinforced, and a plaintive look is taken at a vanishing way of life, resulting in a bittersweet picture of childhood woven with painstaking care.”
  • N. K. Carter (Filmwell): “Here as in many other Miyazaki films, the human need for possession and control wreaks havoc on the many wonders of the world. Thankfully, Arrietty makes for a more subtle ecological parable than, say, Princess Mononoke and its literally dying forest god, and there’s considerably more optimism about the possibility of mutually beneficial coexistence.”
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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.