When Marnie Was There is a beautifully animated movie that tackles complex and mature themes of loneliness, family, and friendship in ways that are never condescending or melodramatic. The film is filled with touching emotional peaks that will stay in your head long after you leave the theater. It's no wonder that it has such a strong following among children, teenagers, and adults alike.
While the movie contains homoerotic themes that hint at a budding same-sex relationship between Anna and Marnie, it never actually becomes a gay romance. Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the director of the movie, has been coy about the nature of the girls' bond, leaving it up to viewers to interpret it for themselves. Yonebayashi might be trying to convey the message that sexual identity is not something that can be easily defined or understood.
The film also explores the complexity of love from multiple perspectives, both in romantic and platonic relationships. Marnie's love for Anna and her desire to protect her are portrayed as deeply intimate and meaningful bonds that transcend any simple definition of love. However, the film ends on a tragic note when it is revealed that Marnie is actually Anna's grandmother. This quakes any potential queer subtext and puts a damper on any hopes for a happy ending between the two girls.
The movie has a lot to offer for both young and old audiences alike, including a touching exploration of the complexity of love. While it may not be a gay story, it is a beautifully crafted and heartwarming adaptation of an classic children's book that will surely remain a favorite among many generations to come.