Friday, 13 June 2008

Makoto Shinkai “She And Her Cat”

Made in 1999 by Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, She And Her Cat is an intimate, poetic account of a young woman’s life told by her cat. Through the seasons the black and white movie explores the comings and goings of the young woman, her routines, her happiness, her broken heart. The use of the cat as narrator (the voice is Makoto’s) works perfectly and is never twee. The cat is absolutely infatuated with his mistress: “She was beautiful like a mother, and beautiful like a lover.” Being a cat, the narrator is unable to change the emotions of the girl to any great extent; he has to watch as she suffers the feelings of rejection following a long telephone conversation. When she says, "Somebody, somebody, somebody help me" he cannot provide that degree of help. The animal has a life, a lover, but this is a convention for expressing the director's very personal reaction to the breakdown of an actual relationship and the inadequacy of others at this stage in his life. The movie has a photographically literal style and Makoto utilises all the oblique angles and clever perspectives of the skilled movie director. The dialogue is clip and spare, the happiness of the girl celebrated in the warm days and, as the light fades and the temperature drops, the economic use of language evokes strong emotions of a lost love. I'm not sure whether it is a language thing or not but the title itself with its emphasis on the "She" rather than "Cat" orientates the subject of this marvellous animation. If you do not know the director's work this should provide an introduction to a great director. A YouTube version is available: She And Her Cat.

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