Noruwei no mori
Director: Anh Hung Tran
Writer: Anh Hung Tran
Based on: Haruki Murakami‘s novel
Cast: Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara, Reika Kirishima, Tetsuji Tamayama, Eriko Hatsune
Toru (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) just started university in Tokyo when he runs into Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi). Naoko used to be Toru’s best friend Kizuki’s (Kengo Kôra) girlfriend but after Kizuki committed suicide, they fell out of touch. Toru and Naoko start hanging out, then sleep together but afterwards, Naoko disappears. After a bit Toru finds out that Naoko is staying at a sanatorium. While she is gone, he meets Midori (Kiko Mizuhara) who is pretty much everything Naoko is not. Even though Toru is completely devoted to Naoko, his friendship with Midori deepens.
This movie did not work, neither as a film of its own, nor as an adaptation of the novel. It was way too long and disjointed. At least the cast was mostly fine and the cinematography nice.
This might have been a much better film if it hadn’t been for Anh Hung Tran. His script makes all the classic novel-adaptations mistakes: introducing characters willy-nilly because they’re in the book but reducing them so much in the film that they don’t really fit into the story anymore (like Nagasawa and Hatsumi). Filming scenes but forgetting to show the context they’re in (like the political angle that was played up and then dropped without further comment). If you’ve read the novel, you’ll know what’s going on. Otherwise it will be a bit confusing and most of all boring. (I was a few pages from the end of the novel when watching the film.)
But worse than the script was the score. It was too loud, obnoxious and it kept crowding the scenes, if you know what I mean. It just didn’t fit the mood and continuously shook me out of what was happening on screen.
Contrary to Midori, who is such a great character that not even this script could stop her awesome, Naoko is barely left with any personality at all. All that is left is her frailty. That’s not all the fault of the script – Rinko Kikuchi just isn’t a particularly great actress. Apart from her the cast was pretty good – too good for the film.
The best thing about the movie was the cinematography, but that wasn’t consistently the case. It did have its beautiful moments though.
Summarising: Better read the book.