"A young boy named Mahito, yearning for his mother, ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning," the official synopsis reads.
"A semi-autobiographical fantasy about life, death, and creation, in tribute to friendship, from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki."
The Boy and the Heron was given a surprise release in Japan in July, without any promotion ahead of its debut, under the title How Do You Live? Nevertheless, it still managed to set a box office record during its opening weekend.
While the first reviews out of Japan were mixed, the next wave have been largely glowing, earning the film an impressive 100% critics' rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes from eight reviews at the time of writing.
Here's what some of the critics have been saying:
"The film could be read many ways, but fundamentally, it plays like a heartfelt depiction of resilience in the face of conflict and grief, a gentle call to find friends and trusted allies, to move forward and bring humanity and understanding to the world."
"If The Wind Rises was a woundingly piercing work of self-examination, The Boy and the Heron is by contrast a crushingly poignant work of self-elimination. Once more, Miyazaki is questioning the purpose of artistic creation in a world so prone to ruin, but this time he’s asking it of us."
"True to form, The Boy and the Heron proves unpredictable, but it's also within the realm of Miyazaki's earlier work, which is both comforting and slightly disappointing. He hasn't done anything to tarnish his filmography. Nor has he expanded it in the way Spirited Away did."
"Miyazaki's latest film stands as a testament to his enduring legacy. It's a mature, complex masterpiece, weaving together the director's past, present, and future – a beautiful enigma that promises to be worth the wait."
The Boy and the Heron is released in US cinemas on December 8, following special previews from November 22. A UK release date has yet to be confirmed.
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