Mary and the Witch’s Flower
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
A girl discovers she has magic powers.
When you leave the theater after viewing this Japanese import, the world you re-enter “seems more capable of magic than it did before,” said Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. The movie, a debut for an outfit founded by veterans of the storied Studio Ghibli, centers on a preteen heroine who finds a magic flower that bestows on her the ability to ride a broomstick. Though the film “doesn’t have the imaginative depth of Ghibli masterpieces like Spirited Away,” its “wondrously inviting” hand-drawn imagery instantly enchants. As Mary stumbles upon a school for witches that’ll bring to mind Harry Potter’s alma mater, “one shot after another elicits wide-eyed awe,” said Sam Adams in Slate.com. Unfortunately, we’ve seen very similar images from Ghibli’s artists, and Mary’s coming-of-age story takes a far too conventional path. Still, the visual artistry can be reward enough, said Bilge Ebiri in VillageVoice.com. Mary’s new school is “a realm of eerie beauty, alternating between steampunk bustle and space-age grandeur.” The movie is packed with such imagery; “it’s at times so gorgeous and intricate that you might not know where to look.” ■