Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

Reviewed by:

A girl from a small town and boy living in Tokyo find themselves swapping bodies in their dreams through a mysterious twist of fate. As they navigate each other's lives and share unique experiences, an unexpected connection forms between them. However, just as they start to unravel the enigma behind their extraordinary link, a startling revelation threatens to upend everything.

Before I launch into my review, I just want to fire a couple of shots at the other curators -we totally watched this movie together to review it over a year ago and then I was the only one who did. (You guys are free to remove this underhanded stab once one of you has added their review!) So. Anyway. Let’s get into it.

There is a pattern when I read/watch/whatever non-western media, love the art style or the premise etc., get really into it… and then the stories diverge from conventional western plot structure and as a result the ending leaves me unsatisfied and irritated. To grab a few random examples: I felt that the broadly praised The Three-Body Problem had some interesting ideas but pretty poor writing overall. I was intrigued by Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death but its story progression felt as random as a swallow in the sky. And while I loved the atmosphere in Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, the ending had me scratching my head.

The main reason, I think, is that non-western stories tend to structure the resolution of their plots around emotion more than most western media do. And it turns out I am a logic-driven reader and viewer.

Unfortunately, Your Name was no different. I think it looked great. The premise might not be that original, but it was executed very well and the movie kept me engaged throughout the first three quarters of its runtime. But by the time it was starting to work towards a conclusion, I found myself frowning more and more, trying to follow what was happening and why it was happening and how the rules worked and I couldn’t make sense of it – which is especially weird in a movie like this that features – slight spoiler? – time/dimensional travel like this.

I have to admit that by the final scenes I was planning the other curators’ food order rather than focussing on what should probably have been a satisfying climax. But all I could see was a string of emotional beats with no set up in the story and no connecting tissue. That experience felt very familiar because I have it with almost all Ghibli-movies. The same curse all over again.

Does that mean Your Name is a bad movie? Probably not, because you’re probably not watching it for the deeply engaging plot but rather for the pretty pictures and strong vibes. And I think those emotional beats hit home in a way that was somehow more convincing in such a stylised animated world than if they would have been the climax of a live acted Hollywood drama. If I’m trying to catch it in a single phrase, Your Name is very good at the things it wants to be very good at. Just… don’t expect to make any logical sense of it.

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