The Reel Review

A-

This Japanese animated film, about magical powers bestowed upon a young boy and his two-stringed musical instrument during a quest to determine the fate of his late samurai father, is an unusual juxtaposition – a sad, melancholic story, stunningly gorgeous animation and an odd choice of celebrity voiceovers (Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey). The first half lumbers along at an uneven pace but by its stirring, sentimental ending, it is like that rare jigsaw puzzle whose picture is apparent only with its final piece, and it is wonderful. One of the year’s best animated films.

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