As a critic, I get greatest pleasure from dissecting movies, not just on a surface-level story level but also on a deeper thematic one. The Imaginary first appears to be about Amanda, a young woman coping with her father’s death and all the changes that follow by making an imaginary friend named Rudger. But it soon becomes apparent that Amanda and her experiences aren’t the main focus of the movie. Rather, Rudger’s existence as an imaginary companion is the focus.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many deeper ideas in Rudger’s novel; it’s a quite simple tale. Rudger tries everything to survive while being relentlessly followed by Mr. Bunting. In an attempt to find Amanda again, he embarks on a number of adventures and befriends new people.
In the end, though, Amanda and Rudger’s breakup is really only a pretext to investigate what it means to have an imaginary buddy and what transpires when the young people who made them give up on them. Every imagined acquaintance has a function from birth and is forgotten once it serves its purpose. They can, nevertheless, still exist in imaginative settings like libraries. From there, they can even appear in children’s dreams as extra characters; if the youngster grows connected to them, they may even reappear as new imaginary friends.
This film is brimming with creativity, from reality to storybook worlds to children’s imaginations, and it has the animation to match. The bizarre moments are always as lovely as they are strange, and the real-world English surroundings are extremely vivid. This movie is just beautiful to look at. It looks a lot like a Ghibli movie in terms of style. This is due to the fact that the film’s studio, Studio Ponoc, is led by Yoshiyuki Momose, a veteran Ghibli animator who worked on iconic projects like Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, and Tales from Earthsea.
From an aural perspective, the music is consistently strong. It does a fantastic job of maintaining a high level of suspense while providing just enough additional to really bring the more emotional passages to life. The final theme song from A Great Big World, featuring Rachel Platten, “Nothing’s Impossible,” is a lovely song in and of itself; the harmony in it is amazing.
The Imaginary is ultimately the kind of movie that will keep kids engaged. It doesn’t hold back and has high stakes and tension the entire time. Children’s imaginations are wonderfully captured by the stunning images. In the end, though, this place offers little more than the adventure. It’s merely a pleasant ride with no deeper themes or teachings, despite attempts to do so. Adults won’t be bored by this movie, but regrettably, it doesn’t have much of an impact that will stick with you after the credits have rolled.