Craft By Zen

Curation  /  Films  /  Suzume

Film Poster for Suzume
Film Poster for Suzume
Dir. Makoto Shinkai
🌎 Japan
🗓️ 2022
⌚️ 122 minutes
🔊 Japanese
First Watched:
A modern action adventure road story where a 17-year-old girl named Suzume helps a mysterious young man close doors from the other side that are releasing disasters all over in Japan.

I feel like when it comes to Makoto Shinkai movies, you either love them or hate them. His last three movies have circled around a looming threat of mother nature and whether love can prevail in the midst. In “Your Name”, it was a disaster that had already happened and going across time to save those who were in danger. With Weathering For You, it was letting disaster come so you can be with the one you love. In Suzume, it’s looking at the truama for those affected by the devastation of a disaster.

My first foray into Shinkai was “Three Centimeters a Second”. The film came as a recommendation from a friend who I regard dearly when it comes to great films. I remember being teased by the romance in that movie, like a tease of will they won’t they. In “Your Name”, I remember the callbacks to those themes in the ending scenes where the characters kept near misses of each other. And maybe that makes me a sucker for a almost missed connection where I know it’s a trigger for me to start crying.

Suzume standing in front of a door in a promotional poster for the film. Image courtesy of Toho Co., Ltd
Suzume standing in front of a door in a promotional poster for the film. Image courtesy of Toho Co., Ltd

I swore that I would try to bear my tears and not let expectations get too high with Suzume. I thought maybe “Your Name” was Shinkai’s height when it came to playing with our emotions. I couldn’t relate to the characters from “Weathering With You”, but that doesn’t make that movie a bad film. In face, I would say it was a powerful message with gorgeous animation and scenery. If anything, I went into Suzume knowing at least it will be a good looking film. And it hit that expectation spot on. It reminded me of going to see Sprited Away in theaters for the first time, and having a transcendental experience of the animation put before me, as well as getting lost into a world I didn’t know your imagination could take you. But what I didn’t expect was how much the emotion starts to flooded through me when the reveal happens towards the end, and just like in “Your Name” when the two characters find themselves in a parallel plane, Suzume finds herself understanding the world through the door and how she’s been there in the past. I’m of course being slightly vague about it in case you want to enjoy this movie.

Suzume is a 17-year-old girl who finds a mysterious young man whose job it is to close doors to prevent disasters from enveloping towns and cities in Japan. She gets taken to a hero’s journey when this mysterious man is taken out of commission. Shinkai’s plots feel straight forward like this, but they rarely are. Suzume reminds me more of a road movie, like Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas or any of his road trilogy. It’s not about the road itself nor the journey, but a look within. When you take away the supernatural aspects, it’s a teenager trying to make sense of her life and the people around it. And while the runtime can feel a bit like a drag in the middle, it’s all trying to point to something incredible if you let it take you on that inner journey.

Needless to say, I recommend Suzume, and I wish I got to see it in theaters. I hate limited screenings, and I tend to miss those more often than not. Go watch it if you haven’t, and if you have, then let me know your thoughts, or letterboxd review. And Makoto Shinkai’s early works are on the Criterion Channel, so check those out too.

Is this cat an ally or a friend? Image courtesy of Toho Co., Ltd
Is this cat an ally or a friend? Image courtesy of Toho Co., Ltd