|Index||6 reviews in total|
This is a film about three people who are very lonely for different reasons and find themselves all on the way to Hokkaido. What seemed like a very odd trio and a very odd premise became a wonderful film about hope, forgiveness and belonging. Extra points are given for the film being set in Hokkaido and not Tokyo, it gives the film much mire meaning and authenticity. Actually, Hokkaido itself is a co-star of this film, as you see it rolling along out the car window. The acting is superb and the film is a major crowd pleaser. Director Yamada Yoji's films are kind of hit and miss to me (I've only seen a few Tora-san films) but this one really kept me interested and, along the way, I cared about each character more. Watch this, its a feel good film about life.
The plot is a simple one but the characterizations and travel episodes fill the movie out. When the travelers near their destination, the film shows an affection for small towns as we look out the car window and see the old buildings and the residents passing by. I was surprised to hear a performance of the song "Can-Can Musume" which I haven't heard for over 50 years.
One of those hilarious, tear-jerkers from the famed director-Yamada Yoji of the Tora-san fame. The three main actors--Takakura Ken, Takeda Tetsuya, and Momoi Kaori, with an appearance from Baisho Chieko-- give an outstanding performance. The storyline is reminiscent of Tony Orlando's song "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree". One of my favorite movies of all time.
You could describe it as a gritty, "thinking man's Tora-san" (in fact it shares a script-writer and some of the same cast as the early Tora-san films). Funny in many places but not a comedy; more like a slice-of-reality, on-the-road film in which three strangers are thrown together and romantic love triumphs in the end. Not an art film by any means, but great in its own way.
This confection is hard to watch for the first twenty minutes. The
loudmouth driver in the cowboy hat is particularly irritating, and the
poor distracted girl he eventually persuades to take for a ride is only
just tolerable. Things begin to settle in when the great Ken-san
finally moseys on in (about 25 minutes in).
Another reviewer observes that Hokkaido is a co-star. The local tourist bureau could certainly use this movie as a promotional video, as the lovely scenery of Japan's frozen north is handsomely on display here. Frankly, it is about the only aspect of the movie that held my attention while waiting for Ken-san, and remained a considerable asset from then on.
In case there can be any doubt, I will state it clearly. Yes, I can see that the young couple are mainly in this story as a foil for Ken-san. But I still contend that they take up too much screen time, and the film could only have been improved if their parts had been substantially cut. For instance, the first twenty minutes could have been cut to five minutes or less with no appreciable loss.
I hardly need say that Takakura puts in a subtle and moving performance, for which he is justly famous. And the longer he is on screen, the more the young couple improve. By the end, they are almost bearable, and the cowboy has even managed to develop some gentleness. Better late than never.
Ken's character's past is gradually revealed, and though there are no surprises here, the journey is compelling and moving. Very sentimental but highly watchable.
I watched the movie, and the plot is similar to the song. However, the
"ribbons" were replaced with "handkerchiefs". A post was used in lieu
of an oak tree.
Away from these similarities, I found the movie entertaining. The movie is a ballad of hope and friendship.
The ensemble performance is a perfect mix. Ken Takakura's stoicism versus Tetsuya Takeda's humor is balanced by Kaori Momoi's character.
The movie offers a lot of symbolisms. Their journey is same to life. The destination is uncertain. There might be ups and downs (vividly depicted by the good cinematography showing the different places in Hokkaido).
The handkerchief is a metaphor of a person's aspirations. There may be hindrances that discourage him or her to pursue it. Thankfully, there are friends and loved ones who cheer us up to go on.
A yellow handkerchief is a clear sunny day we are looking forward to every time we wake up. A movie like this deserved the recognition bestowed upon it.
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