Your Name

For some reason, filmmakers like to use comets as an excuse for all kinds of weird behavior. They can make people disappear, like in Night of the Comet. They can make machines turn against people, like in Maximum Overdrive. They can make parallel universes converge, like in Coherence. And then there’s Your Name, where a comet results in a kind of mashup of Freaky Friday and The Lake House.

Mitsuha is a girl, and Taki is a boy. They don’t know each other. They don’t live anywhere near each other. But then one day, each wakes up in the other’s body. They act weird and don’t know what’s going on. Then the next day, they’ve switched back. They think that maybe it’s a dream since the memory of what happened seems to fade quickly, but it keeps happening. They manage to devise a way to communicate with each other indirectly (despite still not knowing who the other is) but attempts to talk on the phone or meet in person never seem to work out.

The movie is a little confusing at times, in part because of the way the plot is revealed, and also because sometimes there’s so much going on that it’s hard to take it all in. That’s especially true of the subtitled version (which is the one I saw), since there are times when there are two sets of captions on the screen at the same time—one for the dialogue and another to translate text on the screen—and I occasionally felt like I was missing out on being able to actually watch the movie. The movie also opens with a song, and the subtitles for that seemed pretty cryptic and awkwardly worded (maybe they were just translated very literally), and that made it feel like it was getting off to a bad start. It’s likely that the English-dubbed version would’ve made it easier to jump right in, but it’s not that much of a hindrance once you get far enough into the movie to have worked out the basics of the plot. And you’re supposed to be a little disoriented since that’s how the characters feel.

Once you have gotten your bearings, you’ll find that it’s a very funny and highly captivating movie. We may have seen elements of the story before, but that doesn’t mean that it’s boring or predictable. It’s got a pretty typical runtime, at around an hour and forty-five minutes, but it’s really well paced, and even the slower parts seem to move by pretty quickly.