I got excited when I first read about The Garden of Words. Love as 恋, or “lonely sadness” was a theme that I know all too well and want to see. After watching it, I think this is Makoto Shinkai’s best movie to date. It’s tight and utterly focused.
It also reminded me why I don’t usually watch or read love stories. Personally, I find them either too sappy or unrelatable. Romantic comedies are too quirky and inauthentic, and they rarely intersect with my ideas about love. When it comes to it, I brood a lot. Which is why watching this film was a treat. It isn’t full of dialogue or noise, the beautiful visuals silently ask you to notice them. The characters are full of doubts and fears, and only by making a genuine effort do they stave off their loneliness.
The ending redeems the two characters by making them realize how important they are to each other. But love does not solve their problems. This is important. It’s often a valid criticism of love stories that they often lead people to have unrealistic expectations, which set them up for disappointment. The stories I want to read about are the ones that portray love as something you have to keep working on together with your partner, because no one else is going to do that for the two of you, and it sure as hell won’t take care of itself. And even still, it might not work out in the end.
Will it? The stories I love to read about are the ones that give you hope.
And I love this story.
PS: I saw this on the bus. It was only 45+ minutes long, and when I got off I realized I forgot to ask for my change. I guess it was that good!