If you’re going to strip away the dialogue from your animated castaway story and then use it to tell a bare-bones (hollow-shell?) fairy tale, you had best be offering some arresting visuals. And also maybe some stirring personal relationships. And a little quiet comic relief might be nice. Happily, director Michaël Dudok de Wit is ready with all three. The imagery is a masterful composite of watercolor washes and precise linework — or at least, their computer-generated equivalents — and de Wit takes full advantage of the fact that he doesn’t have to lug an actual camera underwater or into the sky to get his big shots. The struggle between man and turtle gets very personal and stirring indeed, especially in its resolution. And the darting crabs that observe everything with an eye towards eating it are effectively (and economically) deployed. It’s possible that you will feel slightly underwhelmed by the end, even as you murmur to yourself, “Well, that was lovely.” But underwhelmed is not quite the same as disappointed, and it’s good to feel some blood pulsing under the skin of a Studio Ghibli production. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.