This is a spoiler-free review of Pompo: The Cinephile.
About Pompo: The Cinephile
Pompo: The Cinephile had been on my radar since early last year when I included it in an article I wrote for CBR. As you all know, I’m an anime movie junkie! If a movie is coming to theaters, you bet I’m in there.
Pompo, like many anime movies that were slated for 2020/2021 releases, was pushed back due to Covid. It originally was set to premiere in 2020 and was later moved to June 2021, when it was released in Japan. GKIDS acquired the rights in September 2021 and announced a fan preview release event for this week, April 27th and 28th. It will also be in select theaters on April 29th.
Pompo: The Cinephile is about Gene Fini a production assistant for Nyallywood’s royalty EP Joelle Pomponette aka Pompo. He gets his “big break” directing one of her scripts. The movie follows Gene, newbie actress Nathalie Woodward, Pompo, and the rest of the cast and crew as they bustle to get this movie made.
Why Pompo Makes a Difference
The story itself isn’t too atypical: people getting their big breaks and the anxieties that come along with it. There are fun times, whimsical moments, people taking chances, motivational speeches, “Will they pull this off?” energy, and more. But there is so much underneath this typical trope that sets this movie apart for me.
As a connoisseur of anime movies (picture me with a monocle here), Pompo was visually unlike anything I’ve seen before in animation. The animation is breathtaking and it’s put together so uniquely. The only thing that came to mind for comparison was Crazy Rich Asians. Brightly colored scenes, quick cuts from one to the next, flawless transitions that only made sense in this context. The story is told from so many different perspectives, in a way that only makes sense for a movie about making movies. It makes you question what is really happening and who the POV is coming from.
Pompo Is an Ode to Creatives
The movie itself is a love letter to not only movie-making but in general creative people. I watched the movie with my friend Mateo Toro, of Retorocle Studios, a video production company. We couldn’t help but discuss the parallels in the movie to our real-life endeavors.
Mateo has worked on various projects and has been a part of production teams for both large and small-scale productions. From commercials for nonprofit organizations up to large-scale mobster movies, he has had many different film experiences under his belt. Mateo was able to point out how many true to real-life elements were included in the movie.
While I am no filmmaker, I produce, record, and edit all my Youtube videos. I know the feeling of having hours of footage to cut down to a 10-15 minute video. I can also relate to having a certain vision in your head of how you want the final product to look and feel, only to sit down to edit and be at a complete loss.
Anyone who does anything remotely creative will find themselves seeing bits and pieces of their struggles in this movie. Whether it’s in the planning, execution, editing, or funding, Pompo does a great job of reflecting all the ups and downs of these processes.
Walking Away With Renewal
I walked away from the theater with such a renewed feeling of love for what I do as a “creative.” If you follow me on social media, you know these past four months I’ve been on an unofficial hiatus due to some personal reasons (all good, I promise.) As much as I want to carve out time to create, currently, it is not feasible for me. While I do miss having my creative outlet, this time away has been beneficial. It has allowed me to plan out for the future, where I want to take my brand and ultimately, my goals in this journey. I’m excited for the things in my life to settle so I can dig my teeth back into doing what I love.
Watching Pompo: The Cinephile reminded me why I love doing this. It reminded me that creative people have the power to make something out of seemingly nothing, and how much we can accomplish by finding the things that drive us. While the work isn’t always easy, the final outcome is worth all the sweat, blood, and tears.
If you get the opportunity to watch Pompo: The Cinephile in theaters, I highly recommend you do. The overlying messages, alongside its beautiful imagery and soundtrack, are worth seeing in their full glory. I walked in with zero expectations and left with much more than what I bargained for.