Pompo: The Cinephile initially seems like it is going to be a series of anime tropes. That is because that is exactly what it is. There are exaggerated features and as one character puts it, “cute little asses fill the screen”. The main character even has big eyes and a schoolgirl outfit. It soon becomes obvious the film is not just a familiar plot; it is a love letter to the entire film industry.
Gene has been the assistant to B movie mogul Joelle D. Pomponette (the titular Pompo) for over a year. He has never wanted to be a director – the thought actually scares him – but Pompo has plans that will turn his life upside down. The animation in the film is wonderful. Many scenes are eye-catching. But it is not so much individual moments but the transitions between them that make Pompo stand out. Some are flamboyant while others take on a muted look. It keeps the film fresh.
A fair expectation from a story about making movies is plenty of references. Pompo does not disappoint as has callbacks to Martin Scorsese and Satoshi Kon (who is also the subject of a documentary at the Fantasia Film Festival). Film fans will enjoy finding these nods. An argument can be made that Pompo overdoes it, but for a movie set in the film industry, it makes complete sense.
The story is formulaic fun. Pompo is filled with the expected over the top silliness. The characters are not especially deep, but everything comes together in an interesting movie. There is a charm found here that other movies would try to find cynicism in. It is a nice change of place that make the film that much more enjoyable.
There are plenty of movies about Hollywood and cinema. They tend to look at the darker side of the business or be outright spoofs. Pompo: The Cinephile is a lighthearted and fun take that is refreshing and entertaining. It is intentionally familiar without ever becoming derivative. This will appeal to more than just anime fans.
The Fantasia Film Festival takes place in person and online from August 5 – August 25
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