My Beautiful Girl, Mari

My Beautiful Girl, Mari

Rating: N/A
Year: 2002
Genre: Animation
Director: Seong-kang Lee
Dubbing Cast: Lee Byung Hun﹐ Ahn Sung Ki﹐ Bae Jong Oak

My Beautiful Girl Mari tells the story, or requiem if you will, of young Nam-woo's fast approaching adulthood, and the growing fear we all experienced growing up of ending up alone if we ever left that fantasy world that is our childhood were imagination is always company in the most bitter of days. We are softly submerged into a memory-like setting as the movie opens with what I would describe as one of the most haunting and calming intro montages I have ever seen in an animated film of this nature. You fly away on the path of a seagull, and for a moment you're thinking of your own life and memories with no motive; as Lee Byeong-Woo's opening score paints familiar images and summons warm thoughts of a beautiful memory that's past.

You are introduced to Nam-woo, a young boy living a simple life in the beautiful coast of South Korea. There we meet other simple subjects like his young caring mother, his pet cat Yo, his grumpy grandmother, and best friend Jun-ho. They are all at a turning point in their lives. Nam-woo's mother is starting to date again after her husband's death. The grandmother is ailing quickly and trying to guide in the right path those she will leave behind. Nam-woo himself, deals with abandonment issues, after the death of his father, the though of his mother moving on with another man therefore forgetting him and his father; and the upcoming departure of his best friend as their lives as kids end and adulthood begins. As with most kids Nam-woo finds comfort in his own fantasies embodied by an angel-like girl and the world she inhabits who represent a more enduring and lasting bond. But as reality happens and nature runs its course fantasies fade, and Nam-woo must move on with the rest of his loved ones despite his wishes that the things he loves would never leave him.

This is probably something most of us still deal with... things and people in our lives we refuse to let go. The character Nam-woo embodies that notion in a most realistic and gripping way. His loneliness and refusal of closeness with others by fear of abandonment is something many kids his age experience and later endure as grown ups. And I like very much the approach of this movie to these issues, in where there is not necessarily a happy compromise or an absolution; instead a world of options and question marks we might or might not figure out for the sake of the rest of our lives.

Exquisite animation, haunting score, reflective subjects, and a calming escape for the mind are all part of what this work of art has to offer to those seeking something more meaningful in animation. Reminiscent of other great works such as Whisper of The Heart, and as refreshing and inspiring as a Ghibli film; this beautiful story from Korea shows that everyone out there has visions of animation just as pure and resonant as the big boys.

Reviewed by: Kelly Kelley