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Chizuko's Younger Sister More at IMDbPro »Futari (original title)

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Two as one, one as two

10/10
Author: 8thSin from Tokyo / Toronto
12 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

More Obayashi Weirdness

8/10
Author: mevmijaumau from Croatia
19 January 2015

You know you're watching a Nobuhiko Obayashi film if it's a coming-of- age (seishun) story set in the town of Onomichi, with cats, watermelons, pianos, bizarre effect work and the feeling of timelessness and nostalgia overlapping the entire thing. In some aspects, Futari (lit. The Two of Us, better known as Chizuko's Younger Sister) met my expectations and in others, it left me kinda bored at several scenes.

Futari is a touching movie about two sisters, Mika and Chizuko. Chizuko is a perfect child, while Mika is the opposite of her. Chizuko dies in an accident and reappears as a ghost, guiding her little sister. This movie is 2,5 hours long, so naturally, a lot more things happen, but this is basically the backbone.

Obayashi's fantastic sense of mise-en-scene and surreal, visceral imagery shines as in this one, as in the other films of his that I've seen. The indoor design shifts from Mika's messy room full of decorative colors to tidy, clear views of the rest of the house. However, even those stretches feel like personalized space, with papers and white hats hanging from the ceiling.

Obayashi probably never made a conventional movie in his life, and Futari is no exception. The story, adapted from Jiro Akagawa's novel, is at times very serious and a bit dark, but Obayashi transforms it into a carefree tale with plenty of humor. That isn't to say that there aren't atmospheric and slow moments. In fact, the movie feels like an amalgamation of various different styles. The film casually shifts from a race scene with strange Mario Paint effects and a strange soundtrack to accompany it, to a slow-paced conversation in the living room which lasts for several minutes without the actors moving at all.

Some scenes really do achieve greatness, such as Mika's performance of a Schumman piece, or the expressionistic opening scene which is later mimicked by the final one, however Futari is definitely undeserving of its runtime and several moments can be quite tedious. However, that's completely fine as long as there are sights such as Beethoven's 9th played on a ship with dimension-bending fireworks in the background, or the mentioned race scene where the runners enter a cave full of inexplicable and unpredictable creepy sounds which are never referred to again. Also, rapists in Onomichi apparently wear classy evening suits.

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