[Movie Review] Your Name (2016)

Your Name is almost completely style at the expense of substance. We follow two teenagers through elaborately animated set pieces around homes hidden in forests, interiors of homes that are shown at extreme angles, and clouds, because of course there are clouds, it’s by the director of Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second. Those teens encounter a certain premise that, if the reveal wasn’t spoiled for you in the advertising…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ [2/5]

The narrative takes thirty minutes to reveal the premise!

The teens swap bodies. It’s painfully obvious even without the advertising spoilers. Why does it take so long to officially reveal this to the audience? Well, we have to see plenty of unique angles of those nicely painted towns. These shots serve as backgrounds for characters that are animated in ways that seem more impressive simply because there are more frames of motion than you might expect. The camera may need to pan during trivial moments just in case you’ve forgotten about the budget.

We’ll learn nothing about the characters. We gain no emotional investment in their plights. We’re not encouraged either directly or indirectly to emotionally invest in them. They’re one dimensional character archetypes and their only motivation to get together is that it best serves the plot. When these characters move more than a few frames, such as when they dance or move their arms around, they are disorientingly computer rotoscoped. The movement is too fluid, compared to the normal slightly jerky movement, which along with the poorly modeled vehicles, destroys any sense of visual magnitude.

The thirty minutes of visual padding does allow us to see some character subtleties. It’s just that the movie would have been substantially more rewarding if these ideas were expanded, and not just for awkward comedic effect! Why is the boy a constant pervert? The girl isn’t? Unfortunately, this is not the sort of challenging movie to present any meaningful dialogue on sex or gender, instead it’s a pandering blockbuster movie.

How could it be improved?

There’s too much time wasted building the premise and not enough time spent developing why these characters are interested in each other besides for purely carnal reasons. They only seem interested in each other because they were briefly inside each other’s bodies, which is definitely not a euphemism, guys. There’s no curiosity in the other’s life. The girl shows some interest in helping the boy, even if it’s accidental and she immediately regrets the decision, while the boy is just an occasionally boisterous cliché.

Most reviewers liked this movie. The biggest detractor for me was the visual presentation that was critically well received. Where most saw these very beautiful painted, drawn, or rendered shots of cities and clouds, I saw through trivial attempts at showing off a well-paid art studio at the expense of what I was anticipating, which was a romance between two multi-faceted characters with depth and at least some personality!

Your Name is a pop ballad about an insubstantial romance.

My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)