5 Centimeters Per Second

Thoughts on Makoto Shinkai’s heartbreaking & beautiful 5 Centimeters Per Second.

“It must really be a lonelier journey than anyone could imagine. Cutting through absolute darkness, encountering nothing but the occasional hydrogen atom. Flying blindly into the abyss, believing therein lie the answers to the mysteries of the universe.”

Ugh, this just fucks me up. I hate that I love this movie. I hate that I can’t stop watching it. It’s a heart-rending ordeal in the power of love, how it influences us, drives us, eventually consumes us. Told in three segments totalling just over sixty minutes, each tale feels like a short burst of intense emotion that collides into your gut then doubles back around to kick you while you’re down for good measure. Makoto Shinkai has captured the very essence of heartbreak – where desperate longing and infinite sadness walk hand-in-hand, punctuated by fleeting moments of hope and affection.

It’s all illustrated in the most spectacular fashion. Animation offers such boundless visual potential to artists and storytellers, and Shinkai is about as ambitious as they come. The images explode off the screen, bathed in an array of deep poetic purples and gorgeous sky blues. It’s an ethereal experience – one that not only complements but enhances the intense emotion onscreen. You feel the soft whisper of the wind on the back of your neck; the soft cherry blossoms settling on your palms; the hostile, bitter cold that chips at your resolve and chills you to the bone; the vast sense of insignificance and wonder evoked by space. Each sequence is so memorable, it’d be eye-roll-inducing if it wasn’t so god damn beautiful.

I’m not a huge fan of the final segment, and those who’ve seen this will likely understand why. Yet after three viewings, Shinkai’s hastily-edited misstep does little to take away from the overwhelming brilliance of the opening two acts. I’d accuse him of being unable to top this, but of course he already did. Show-off.

4 Stars

Random Thoughts

I’ve watched this movie three times in seven months. That sixty-minute runtime makes it insanely rewatchable. It’s a pool of sadness I can’t help but come back to and revisit. Is this masochism?


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