Our endearing protagonist is Umi (voiced by Sarah Bolger), a high-school student in Yokohama in 1963. With an absent mother and a dead father, Umi has plenty of responsibilities, but adolescence being what it is, she’s dragged into helping her crush, Shun (Anton Yelchin), save a local clubhouse from demolition. If the film were merely a depiction of adolescent longing, its portrayal of that state alone would be worth your $12: Unconstrained by the limitations of the human face, the animators paint remarkably nuanced states of teenage distress onto their principals. (You may be brought back to your own pimple-laden past.)
Yet Poppy Hill also explores Umi’s attempts to identify with a father she barely knew for the sake of her own budding individuality, as well as Shun’s attachment to the clubhouse out of respect for its past. Some third-act revelations may really test the scales of plausibility, but Poppy Hill ultimately is not about its story as much as the emotional states it probes.
April 5-11, 2013