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Film Review: 時をかける少女

I’ve been trying to watch more Japanese films lately. It’s a good way to relax and “study” all at once.

時をかける少女 (rendered in English as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) was shown at the Cape Town Japanese film festival a few months ago but I missed it. I heard it was good though and so luckily I was able to watch it at home.

It is indeed good!

The basic plot is simple: a girl learns how to time travel and uses that for her own amusement. Despite this familiar premise, the film keeps you guessing. In some ways the form of the film begins to mimic the action on screen–scenes are repeated, things are reworked, time is squashed and stretched. Despite its sci-fi premise, most of the film takes place in a high school. I spent 2 years teaching in a Japanese high school, and the film’s high school felt alive and familiar (another Japanese film I saw recently, Linda Linda, captured Japanese high schools equally well).

The main character, a girl of about 16, is just lovely. In many ways ordinary, she is headstrong, assertive and supremely likeable. She carries the film along in a whimsy that makes the implausible plausible, or at least fun.

At some point the time travel plot unravels (as they all must) and I found myself wishing the ending had come sooner (there were many melancholy moments that felt like endings of sorts). Good flick though. Recommended.

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