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Firefly Dreams More at IMDbPro »Ichiban utsukushî natsu (original title)

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A truly beautiful, but unusual Japanese movie

10/10
Author: henri_aqua from Heidelberg, Germany
16 November 2001

Firefly Dreams is a movie about the friendship between a young teenage girl and an old Lady who she visits in her summer holidays. Naomi is a spoiled brat and send by her father to the countryside, after her mother runs away. There she works at the restaurant of her aunt and uncle. Close lives also Mrs Koide with whom she used to play when she was a kid. From there the story unfolds. I have to praise almost all aspects of the movie. The plot is well thought and all characters are believable and very interesting even the ones who just appear in a few scenes. The photography is marvellous, the landscape is breathtaking and rounds up the plot very nicely. The aesthetic is very different from recent Japanese movies I saw (e.g. from Kitano). It is violent free and it is set mainly in a rural area. Maybe this is so because the director is English and chose a different approach for portraying Japanese life, but this is just a speculation. The acting is great and for me this is the first time I think I learned something about normal Japanese everyday life through a movie. Surely the development of Naomi, how she grows up - and indeed has to grow up - through friendship and also sorrow, is the driving force of the movie. The movie has a slow pace, so if you are an action-movie fan, don't go. Everybody else: you will not regret it!

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Very beautiful movie

8/10
Author: ebiros2 from United States
14 July 2009

This movie sets its story in two opposing contrasts one about urban life and country living, and another about young and old. Yumi, lives a shallow life like many teenage girls living in urban Japan until her father sends her to country side where their relatives live for the summer. She befriends Ms Koide, an old lady who used to be an actress.

Removed from the urban life, and seeing the contrast between her who has whole life ahead of herself, and an elderly Ms Koide who has nothing to look forward to in life, Yumi begins to put things into perspective about her own life.

This realization comes very gradually, so the movie seems slow, but the story is told in a very beautiful way. Almost all the people living around her in the city is very selfish, people living in the country aren't as privileged, but are more caring. Yumi gets a chance to reassess her life between the two opposing environment.

Kind of a coming of age story for an urban girl, but also has message for all of us about what life is all about.

Highly recommended.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

G-rated Visitor Q

6/10
Author: whist from United States
30 March 2006

Firefly Dreams is basically a nice story about returning to traditional values in the face of the ugliness and shallowness of urban life. Packed off to relatives in the countryside by her parents, a young woman develops a variety of friendships - in particular one with an elderly woman who, it seems, has had an interesting past - and discovers herself in the process. What sets this film apart from others in the genre is the degree of understatement that pervades it. Events occur off camera and connections between events are made, but there is refreshingly little explication, leaving viewers to think for themselves. I would not call Firefly Dreams a masterpiece; the story is fairly predictable and simplistic, the characters are pretty generic, and the cinematography is unchallenging. But it is a nice film and leaves some tantalizing questions to mull over even as you return the DVD to the store.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Intelligent,enchanting and realistic

9/10
Author: mel2surf from San Diego, Calif, USA
27 October 2007

Firefly Dreams took me right into the story,and the dreamy pace/visual beauty,and heartfelt emotions added to the charm.Naomi's journey through pain and loss is very charmingly portrayed here,and all the characters are well placed.Nothing seems forced or overly contrived..more like you are in the locations and absorbing Naomi's everyday life,and the character of Mrs. Koide,the old woman/ex actress will warm your heart.it's VERY refreshing to see films like this,where you are not distracted by noise,gun fights,explosions and special effects.Mr.Williams has created a real gem.Visually and emotionally lush! See it!

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Great choice of scenery!

8/10
Author: miss-sarah-andrea-amy from United States
4 September 2005

This film alludes the life of a brat from Nagoya, problem teenager from a dysfunctional family, to the life of a former movie actress from the 1930s who is now suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Most of the scenes are cast in the city of Shinshiro, Aichi, and the town of Horai, Aichi (which will become part of Shinshiro in October 2005), both very small cities away from the visually overwhelming Japanese urban landscape. The unstaffed and deserted train platform of the JR Iida line, a small (and an actual) hospital, the unpolluted river, waterfalls, forests and the hot spring inns are remnants of old Japan, and so are the fireflies, fireworks and a summer festival at local shrine grounds.

Director John Williams captures the beauty of rural Japan and the wide cultural gap as well as geographical contrast between the urban teenager's Nagoya (fourth largest municipality in Japan) and Koide-san's farm house up on the hill in the Oku Mikawa Highland region, while on the interpersonal and spiritual levels connecting the common elements between these two women from two different generations.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

3 stars

7/10
Author: Mike Weston (mweston) from Silicon Valley, CA
18 April 2002

The plot of this film reminded me of "On Golden Pond." In this case a teenage girl who is somewhat troubled is sent off to the country when her parents separate. She becomes reacquainted with an elderly relative who is suffering from Alzheimer's.

The pace of the film is slow, but the scenery is spectacularly beautiful, which most of us would not have expected from Japan as most films there are set in the big cities. The sounds of the cicadas made my wife very homesick for the country where she grew up.

The film tied for the audience award for best dramatic feature at Cinequest (the San Jose, CA film festival), which is where I saw it on 2/26/2002.

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