(Context before this starts: I live in Australia and this movie was released in select theaters on the 22nd of August)
I have been a fan of Makoto Shinkai since I watched his movie 'Your Name' in 2017, it being my favourite movie of all time. A timeless movie about determination and love, an atypical romance where lovers are obstructed to be with each other through time and space. Emotional, riveting, dramatic, intense and incredibly entertaining throughout. And one of the greatest worries for this film was that it would be too similar to Your Name. that it would be boring and unappealing.
Weathering with You is not Your Name.
We open to rain, a recurring happening in this movie, in Tokyo. The camera moves backwards through a window and we see a girl staring out. We then see she is inside a room of a hospital with a patient on life support in bed. This immediately sets the tone for the entire film, and the difference between Your Name. and Weathering with You. This film shows the viewer straight away that this film is not a happy film like Your Name. Where Your Name. has tragedy and death, Shinkai focuses more on the relationship between Taki and Mitsuha. It shows how their love will bring them together with themes of determination, culture and strength of mind. Weathering with You is somewhat cynical towards life. It shows the gritty parts of Tokyo with police brutality, underage prostitution and homelessness. The film is dark and morbid for most of the run-time, but breaks up the intense scenes with comedy or more hopeful moments.
The direction from Shinkai is breathtaking and complements the art style beautifully. It works in symphony with the character and landscaping designs that you lose yourself in the film, starring in awe at what you see. I saw this film with my brother and no kidding there was a scene where our jaws dropped and we stared at each other before taking out our phones to screen shot it. The movie has multiple lingering shots on beautiful pieces which is just Shinkai saying "I know you wanna see this, so I'mma just let this shot stay there for a couple more seconds..." which I don't object to. The film knows it's gorgeous and it even improves its art style from Shinkai's previous works. This comes from mainly one thing. The rain. This has to have the best rain I have ever seen. Each individual rain droplet is painstakingly drawn with low fog on very surface, and the audio design of the rain on walls and glass in a surround sound theatre was incredible. It was very realistic and made me shiver on multiple occasions.
This film, as I said, is different from Your Name. Aside from a recurring gag in that film, the movie is family friendly, little kids can watch and enjoy it as much as adults. Violence is only implied and no one is ever shown in pain. Language is tame and has one mild swear word, a few characters drink alcohol and one character smokes. There is around one intense/frightening scene with the meteor rush, and maybe you could count Taki's time trip as intense, but that's about it. Weathering With You is a contrasting film. This movie also has a recurring gag similar to Your Name. but it is called out and dealt with less seriously. This type of content is looked at more seriously, with women saying they have to sell their bodies to pay rent. This shows problems going on in current Tokyo where women are objectified by men and are used in terrible ways, especially for under-aged girls. There is infrequent but intense violence. Characters are beaten, shot at, slapped, tackled, one character sacrifices their life. Violence is not glorified, and the aftermath of shooting a gun has a character shocked and shaking in fear over what he had just done. A singular swear word relating to male cow defecation is said a few times by different characters and a light swear about someone without married parents said multiple times. A character is passed out with stubbed cigarettes next to him as he is riddled with guilt, and the same character is dealing with a nicotine addiction that he overcomes by the end of the film. This film has a many intense/frightening scenes, with the surprising chase through the flooding streets, characters coming to terms that if they want to be happy then one of them has to die and a long section where Hodaka is searching for the disappeared Hina where he breaks out of police custody, rides a motorcycle while avoiding police vehicles, then encounters his mentor whom attacks him and he pulls a gun on, police come in threatening to kill Hodaka when all his friends come in and stop the people trying to capture him so that he can see Hina for one last time, among others. In Australia, Weathering with You has received the age rating of PG which is recommended for children over the age of 12, but I believe that for the usage of quiet intense violence, difficult themes, some profanity, mild drug use and intense scenes, it deserves the rating of M for mature. Do not be fooled and allow little kids to watch this film, it is a mature film that is not suitable for younger people.
Overall, Weathering with You is, in my opinion, another masterpiece from the visionary Makoto Shinkai. Realised, flawed characters written expertly, stunning art design and direction, surprisingly dark and intense themes and scenes, emotional moments, gripping action and a satisfying and beautiful ending. This film is easily the best movie that has come out this year by far, and I say that this movie is perfect.