Parents' Guide to

Lonely Castle in the Mirror

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Solid, sentimental fantasy about outcast teens has bullying.

Movie NR 2023 116 minutes
Lonely Castle in the Mirror Movie Poster: Teenagers in a mirror

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The entertaining but thinly plotted adaptation explores mature themes, focusing on misfit teens who need a safe space to make friends and be themselves. Directed by Keiichi Hara (Miss Hokusai), the movie works best when the castle kids are getting to know one another, proving that these "outcasts" are capable of experiencing friendship and camaraderie. It's painful to watch the flashbacks of Kokoro and the other castle teens, who understandably don't want to share why they're all available to visit the fantasy location when their classmates are at school. They play games, talk, and just spend time together. The Wolf Queen pops up occasionally to answer questions and ask why they aren't searching for the key, but she's a somewhat mysterious figure.

The animation is memorable, but a couple of disturbing scenes switch the style, blur faces, and make use of the soundtrack in a way that detracts from rather than enhances the seriousness of the action. The fantasy elements don't extend beyond the castle, and the big reveal will be easy for eagle-eyed viewers to guess. Although younger audiences might be drawn to the film, it's firmly a young-adult story aimed at older tweens and younger teens.

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