As everyone knows from their school days children can be terribly cruel to each other. Take the Editor for instance who spent most of his schooldays soaking wet from peering down lavatory bowls looking for the blue goldfish just as the school bully pulled the flush. The effects of these cruel pranks can have such devastating impact on a child’s development that they end up becoming the Editor of a film website (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed).
A Silent Voice refers to Nishimiya, a new girl in school who is deaf and communicates by note pads and sign language to her new class mates. Being both new to the school and because her disability makes her different to the others she finds herself being mercilessly bullied led by Ishida, a disruptive pupil and an excellent argument for bringing back the birch because frankly a near fatal beating in the headmasters office would sort him out, The school are typically ineffectual at stamping out the bullying and he carries on tormenting her with much of the rest of the class. However in typical adolescent style his behaviour masks his real feelings towards her namely that he is somewhat besotted with her and five years later in high school he attempts to befriend her and slowly but surely their affection towards each other develops despite the hindrance of some of the students and his inability to explain how much he loves her until a near fatality changes things for both of them.
Teenage angst and hesitant stuttering love are not everyone’s cup of tea but there have been some excellent films that have an appeal to that age bracket and it’s one that the late John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink) mined especially well and though this is an animated film the theme of hesitant love is universal. The animation is instantly recognisable as being Japanese and this is an engrossing 45 minute film. Unfortunately this goes on for over 2 hours and it feels even longer far outstaying its welcome with a seemingly interminable storyline that by the end is so slow it feels like you’re watching their lives unfold in real time and it all gets a little irritating. Throw into the mix the directors penchant for odd shots of feet, shoes and for some reason clothed groins plus surreal moments with stray background extras with a large X’s on their faces which fall away at significant moments and it all gets a little pretentious. It’s a shame because at its heart this is an unusual love story that would make a touching live action film if it weren’t so bum numbingly long.
Here’s the trailer…….