The power of words and images to open hearts. Helen runs, miles a day, to burn off energy: she's an emotional celibate. Going through the post at her shop, she finds a romantic and poetic ... See full summary »
Tom Everett Scott,
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Hiroko Watanabe's fiancé Itsuki died two years earlier in a mountain climbing accident. While looking through his high school yearbook, Hiroko in a fit of grief decides to write a letter to him using his old school address. Surprisingly she receives a reply, not from the dead Itsuki, but from a woman with the same name whom had known Hiroko's fiancé in school. A relationship develops between the two women as they continue to exchange letters and share memories of the dead Itsuki. Written by
Todd K. Bowman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Most of the film was shot in the Otaru area on the island of Hokkaido. The only exception among the exterior scenes is near the end of the film as Hiroko faces the mountain where her ex-fiance' Itsuki died in a climbing accident two years earlier. Although the house where she spent the night is actually on Hokkaido, the view from it in the film is of Mt. Yatsugadake. She is standing before it on the Nobeyama Highland at sunrise. Yatsugadake literally means "eight peaks" and the peak she is addressing is named "Aka-dake" or "red peak" which is the highest of the eight peaks at 2896 meters. This volcanic peak lies about 120 kms northwest of Tokyo and is in fact frequented by climbers. There is a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji from the summit. See more »
Male itsuki fujii:
[Checking out books from the female Itsuki in the school libray. The male Itsuki holds up five checkout cards that he has been the first to sign like a poker hand. He speaks in English]
Fujii Itsuki straight flush.
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On the surface, this is a simple yet moving love story. However, through its twin protagonists, this film explores our relation to the past and how various parts of it may be idealised, suppressed, or distorted, in part based on our assumptions about others that usually go unstated and unchallenged. This latter point is reinforced through a subplot involving (female) Itsuki's grandfather and a past tragedy.
The film is very striking visually, in turns showing sweeping landscapes and intimately detailed portraits. Emotions are at times powerfully conveyed by a camera movement accompanied by a well chosen musical score. The limited use of a hand-held camera jarred with the serene beauty of the rest of the film, which no doubt was the intent, but I found it to be a minor distraction.
All in all, a very poetic missive delivered to us by the skilled hand of Shunji Iwai.
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