Joan G Robinson’s British-set tale is relocated to the Japanese coast by animation house Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away), and tells the story of lonely Anna, who is sent to the country due to health reasons and comes to be fascinated with an old house across the marsh. It is there she sees the mysterious girl Marnie and finally finds the one person to love who loves her – the only catch being that Marnie may be a ghost or perhaps a figment of Anna’s imagination.
Beautifully animated, this is a story of friendship and loneliness that is often haunting and sad, though not quite as magical as some of Ghibli’s classic offerings. Younger children may find it too slow and mannered but older kids, and adults, looking for something more poignant may just take Anna and Marnie to their hearts.
Is When Marnie Was There suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There are scenes in which characters talk about death and bereavement that may upset younger children.
A scene during a storm may also upset the under-8s.