Futari (Two of Us) is about two sisters, one of them the perfect child, the other clumsy and slow. One day, the perfect sister dies, and comes back as a ghost to guide her little sister.
I'm not into old movies, but I've been told by a friend that this movie was the "ultimate seishun (coming-of-age) movie" and the overwhelmingly high user ratings at Japanese sites stirred my curiosity.
The movie had a lengthy runtime of over 150 minutes, but it kept me on the edge of my seat. The story and characters developed very well throughout the movie, with many memorable scenes.
Ishida Hikari's performance was pretty good, and her voice really fit the gentle personality of the younger sister in the shadow of her older sister. But the acting by Nakajima Tomoko, who played the perfect sister completely blew me away. It had to be the best performance by a Japanese actress... ever. She successfully portrayed the cool and mysteriousness of the ghost, as well as bright and cheerful personality of the character when she was alive. Tears also came naturally for her, and I found it very easy to connect with her character.
This is only my second film by the director Oobayashi Nobuhiko, but I already really like the atmosphere of his movies. I must visit Onomichi, the director's hometown where he likes to film his movies one day.
The only thing I hated was the poor 1991 special effects, especially the 'thunder scene blurring' where it actually made it difficult to view. Also, the pathetic chroma key blue screen technique in running scenes, and some poorly constructed accelerated movements. It's amazing how much SFX/CG improved in a span of less than 20 years. It makes me wonder if I'll look back 20 years from now to find the recent movies I love so much to have horrible special effects... probably not, but my children will most likely disagree. Still, a truly great piece of work transcends time.
"Futari" was a phenomenal film that reached the full potential of the concept of a ghost sister. Wonderful story, acting, direction, cinematography, music... a masterpiece if there ever was one.
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