What attracted me to the movie was the association with Studio Ghibli. However, the movie is directed by a Dutch animator and director, Michaël Dudok de Wit, and there is even lesser feel of Studio Ghibli in this one than the recent few movies. I guess I just miss Hayao Miyazaki.
The animation revoked the feel of The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) and now that I think about it, Princess Kaguya was a more entertaining movie than The Red Turtle.
Don’t get me wrong. The Red Turtle is a wonderful animated movie. 2016 has been a reasonably good year for animated movies but nothing exceptional. The animation is fluid and a visual treat. I love the way the nights are depicted on scales of grey. The bareness and minimalism of the scenes, the lack of spoken dialogues, the repetition of sceneries and the gentle soundtrack with nature sounds works wonderfully well together to tell this story of a castaway.
The movie has a good pace. The animation is attractive and the small details emphasized throughout the movie hold my attention in between the events which are the turning points of the movie.
However, because of the lack of intricacies and a subdued, not-complex plot, there is too much time for me to think. I’m analyzing and over analzying the scenes while watching and waiting for the events to unfold. I am empathic to the castaway, his frustrations, struggles, guilt and happiness. However, I’m also thinking about how it is all a metaphor for life in general.
The only moment when I actually react hard is when the main character recalls how he hit the turtle with a stick while looking at the turtle-lady who offers him the oyster (?) flesh. That was a very good scene.
When the realism crosses over to the fantasy, it loses a little of the charm for me. The story is still engaging and the small points are still worked out well but it just melts down some fine storytelling which built up because it initially seemed like a movie sans fantasy.
While fantasy would be a general expectation where Studio Ghibli is concerned, the general mood of my favourite Ghibli movies is that something fantastic happens in seemingly normal settings and events. Here, we have something fantastic like a man marooned on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere and then it just… devolves into something more fantastic.
Again, a part of me argues that if the main character has effectively hallucinated his life after killing the red turtle, then it would still be the same. But it is just a funny, far fetched thought. I don’t believe it.
I’ll definitely recommend this movie to anyone who asks but personally, while I enjoyed watching this movie, I was expecting something more. But Hayao Miyazaki isn’t making movies so I think it is high time I gave up on expecting like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Whisper of the Heart, etc happening again.