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Four youths share a two bedroom apartment in a corner of Tokyo. A series of assault cases occur in the same district. Eighteen year old Satoru, a male prostitute, joins them as a new house mate. Their daily life slowly starts to change.
In 1980s Kyushu, two teenagers fell in love, and exchanged their secrets and thoughts by way of sending tape recordings to each other. More than a decade later, the boy (now grown-up and bittered) rediscovers the last recording of his long-dead lover's voice. Her words trigger a series of flashbacks illustrating the joyful beginning and tragic end of their relationship. Written by
Meticulously engineered tear-jerker of a tale of first love and loss.
Told, mostly, in a chronological series of flashbacks, Crying Out Love (forgive me for abbreviating the title) is unabashed about pulling blatantly on your heart-strings. It has been so meticulously put together however, with such charming performances from the young leads, that you fall readily into being manipulated into tears.
Saku, who spends far too much time in the office, is soon to marry Ritsuko. But on the eve of a great typhoon Ritsuko discovers an old audio cassette in some childhood clothes, which sends her back to the old seaside town she grew up in. Saku finds only a note and, whilst visiting a friend in despair, a chance sighting of Ritsuko in the background of a TV news broadcast leads Saku also back home to find her, and to rediscover the pains of an old ghost.
Once back in the quiet seaside town, Saku is drawn to replay a series of audio cassettes given him by his high school love, Aki. Here the flashbacks begin, and we see Saku and Aki's relationship grow. At first the budding high school romance is charming, cute, and most of all quite genuine. From the rather gawky and unsophisticated ways Saku acts and reacts, to the far more mature and yet still innocent Aki, the young actors invest the characters with both a sense of reality and certain nostalgic magic as befits the memories of a first love at 16.
Saku wins a Walkman in a radio competition, by the simple expedient of lying about a girl that is, essentially, Aki herself. A disappointed Aki hands him a cassette - a message - and thus begins the ongoing exchange of tapes - which later becomes a journal of sorts - as their relationship is repaired and grows, and into the tragedy that follows.
Filmed in something of a standard soft-focus with stylised lighting, the flashback sequences bring with them a look and feel of a youth long gone where the world held so much promise for the two lovers. The stark contrast of the present time, and the occasional intermingling of the two, is perhaps a tad blunt but works remarkably well. This is an intimate film, without sweeping shots or extravagance, but is invested with a warmth by the choice of locations and sets that all seem truly lived in, truly small town Japan. Other than some dreadfully wooden lines near the very end of the movie (both in delivery and in writing), the acting throughout ranges from decent to some remarkable scenes by both young Saku (Mirai Moriyama) and Aki (Masami Nagasawa).
Crying Out Love is a beautiful, charming movie which leads you through the youth of two lovers in such a way as almost guarantee tears. It's a deliberate, and clearly obvious, intent but one you truly don't mind being driven into because the journey is so worthwhile.
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