Matchbox’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is frustrating. When did a Shinkai film become the literal embodiment of bathos? His filmography started out so well: 5 Centimetres was certainly one of the most meditative and powerful romances ever put to the silver screen, and yet, his films have since lost their charm.
As is to be expected with a work from Makoto Shinkai, the visuals and music are entirely fitting of the almost episodic, serial drama-like tone that has become Shinkai's niche: we are thrown into short 3-4 minute "music videos" between acts, intermezzo-like, condensing them and reiterating the emotional disposition of the characters. And yet, it all feels laboured, forced, almost manipulative in a sense. Excessive, surprisingly artificial words are repeated to gain some kind of effect, but (as with Shinkai), it often borders on melodrama and exaggeration, which is disappointing because his characters convey such genuine emotion. The dialogue is choppy and unbelievable, and the human interaction is never as real as it looks. Some parts are touching, certainly, (i'm not made of stone), but as soon as it seems Shinkai is going somewhere with the insights, everything amounts to artifice, a palpable inauthenticity, overwrought and so unreal.
Perhaps i'm being overly critical: where the film does well, it does tremendously well. There are compositions here enough to fill one with incredible awe, enough to take your breath away-wring from you the act of simply marvelling at the colour scheme. But the plot simply doesn't convince. Shinkai needs a good writer. And i suppose this is why "Your Name" is deserving of such criticism: there is such tangible potential, such creative power in the visuals he presents alone: why does the dialogue, plot and writing then appear to take away from it? I fail to understand. And at the end of the day, it's unfortunate that for all the people that have connected so extensively with the film's romance, i continue to find myself incapable of enjoying his writing. Like The Garden of Words, Your Name is a shell of absolute beauty, lacking in the substantial bolster of character progression or narrative charm.