A beautiful, kinetic Valentine to movies and the love of movies, this film isn't very deep (or universal), but it celebrates artistic inspiration, collaboration, and craft with passion and joy. Based on a manga series that began in 2017, Pompo the Cinephile is a little overwhelming at first. Gene looks as if he's locked in fear, with permanent dark circles under eyes eyes. And it's difficult to describe exactly how Pompo fits into this otherwise fairly realistic story: Her appearance and voice suggest that she's a young girl, and yet she's a natural leader and decision-maker, with apparently no need to go to school or be a kid.
Then there's Mystia, who initially seems to be around for her voluptuous figure, flowing blonde hair, and little else. But hang in there -- the movie's characters tend to find their groove and become almost like a sweet little family. And Pompo the Cinephile doesn't forget to be a movie, either. Its montages and juxtapositions and visual flourishes are always ebullient and grand, especially the sequences in which Gene edits, slicing through giant strips of film. This is a movie that loves everything about movies, from cheesy monsters to Oscar-winning performances, from trailers to features, all the way up to Cinema Paradiso itself. If you haven't already been bitten by the movie-loving bug, it might not mean much, but if you have, Pompo will have you smiling for 90 solid minutes.