Patema (Yukiyo Fujii) lives underground but she is not satisfied with staying there – she wants to explore the rest of the world. Only that topside, gravity is reversed, so for Patema leaving the underground is an eternal fall into the sky. When she does finally make it there, she meets Age (Nobuhiko Okamoto) who helps her stay literally grounded since, as a topsider, Patema’s underground world is the eternal drop and the sky is above for him. But how was their world separated like this? And where can they go from there?
Sakasama no Patema wraps a classic story into an interesting and elaborate concept with beautiful images. It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen (what would that even be), but it is very good.
It is clear that you’ll have to shelve any scientific knowledge about what gravity is before you go into the film otherwise it won’t work at all. But if you accept gravity as a pull in a certain direction a person is just born with, depending on the pull of the world they live in, then you’re all set to enjoy the film.
Yoshiura explores all the different implications of the concept he created – from political and religious views that are shaped by this form of the world, to the shape of the world itself. I’m always a fan of thorough thought through and consequently applied ideas, so I really loved this. It’s the movie’s biggest strength.
But apart from that the movie does show weaknesses, especially when it comes to character and plot development which was all a little “been there, seen that”. Obviously the underlying concept was more important than the story told with it. But with such a strong concept, you can’t really fault them for that. Instead you can lean back and enjoy it.