Ella Taylor

The premise of Makoto Shinkai's captivating new anime, Weathering With You, plays out just a whisker away from the storyline of his 2017 smash hit Your Name, about a teenage boy and girl who switch bodies, time and place. In both films a country boy moves to the big city and meets a mystery girl with special powers. Here the two, both refugees from less than adequate families, get caught up in a galloping plot of rescue, redemption and growing up, wrapped in a love story drawn from ancient Japanese legend.

A melodrama to its high-strung core, Karim Aïnouz's Invisible Life is rich in outsized emotions, most of them pouring out of two devoted young Brazilian sisters forcibly separated through the multiple follies of their authoritarian father. If love — sisterly, carnal, maternal, you name it — blazes on the front burner of this intermittently gratifying tale (based on a 2005 novel by Martha Batalha) of domestic woe, destructive patriarchy marches right along behind, ready to stomp on the slightest push for female autonomy or self-definition.

When we meet Alice (Emily Beecham), a single mother and bio-engineer devoted to her work in the effectively creepy indie Little Joe, she's busy propagating a plant whose smell will make all interested smellers happy. So far so plausible: Tampering with nature in the name of the public good — or because we can — is all the rage in life and in movies. Around Alice, apparently normal workplace stuff is going on. A pompous boss (David Wilmot) asserts his authority just because. An ostentatiously diplomatic young assistant with big hair (Phénix Brossard) lurks.

For better and worse, class pride has always run a deep vein through British society, upstairs and down. Not so the United States, where the mere mention of social class often triggers strenuous manifestos about meritocracy and equal opportunity. Which may be why attempts to reproduce Michael Apted's long-running Up anthology — inquiring into the persistence of social hierarchy in post-World War II Britain — have so far failed this side of the Atlantic. For those who think Downton Abbey is pretty much a documentary, the Up series is the perfect antidote.

On the face of it, director Marielle Heller's exhilaratingly impolite indie resume doesn't make her an intuitive fit for a movie about the nicest man in the world — let alone a big studio picture starring nice Tom Hanks.

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