Momo e no tegami [A Letter to Momo] (2011)

Momo e no tegami
Director: Hiroyuki Okiura
Writer: Hiroyuki Okiura
Cast: Karen Miyama, Yuka, Toshiyuki Nishida [info on the cast is unfortunately very thin. Short of watching the film again and copying down the credits or learning Japanese, that’s all I can give you]
Part of: Anilogue

After the death of her father, Momo (Karen Miyama) and her mother (Yuka) move to the island her mother is from. Momo is torn up by her father’s death. All that remains of him is the beginning of a letter he wrote to her, stating simply “Dear Momo”. Since Momo’s mother is working a lot, Momo has basically all the time in the world to brood over that letter. But soon Momo notices that there are weird creatures living in her attic that nobody but her seems to be able to see. Even though these yōkai cause many problems for Momo, she starts to befriend them.

A Letter to Momo is a wonderful, cute, beautiful, extremely sad and very conciliatory film. I absolutely loved it.

From one moment to the next the movie had me laughing and then crying as if there was no tomorrow and then laughing again. Momo’s grief was heart-wrenching and completely tangible. You just really felt that somebody who has experienced loss and grief and really knows it made the film. From the first moment we see Momo to her reconciliation with her mother, it is always present.

And the mother’s asthma attacks were no less jarring. It might have triggered something in me, to make it even worse, since my brother suffered from asthma when he was a kid, but in any case, those scenes were horrible and basically had me choking myself.

And yet somehow the movie manages to never lose its sense of humor. Most of it comes from the yōkai, who are just the right mixture of stupid and well-meaning, with a hint of malevolence and just plain cluelessness. They are really an important counterweight to all the heavy stuff going on in the film, without taking away from the film’s depth.

In short, I wish every movie was as magical as this one.

Summarising: so much better than I thought it would be.

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