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Touching, Quiet Drama About Mortality and Farewells
Ichikawa Jun's follow up to his haunting "Tony Takatani" takes its name from the traditional "farewell song" sung at school graduations to express the students' gratitude to their teachers. "Aogeba Totoshi" deals with the issues of mortality and death through the eyes of a lonely student who has an morbid and albeit naive fascination with death. His teacher, Koichi (played by popular TV personality and media commentator Terry Ito) is also grappling with the issue of mortality as he deals with the impending death of his ailing father, who has decided to spend his final days in the family home. As the story progresses, Koichi finds unexpected solace from his grief by letting his troubled student visit and meet with his father in the hopes that he will understand the meaning of life and death.
Touching and subtle, "Aogeba Totoshi" is a quiet drama that explores death in a dignified and poignant way. The movie almost has a documentary feel to it as we follow both Sensei (teacher) and seitou (student) as they each deal the emotions that arise as the condition of the father worsens and his death becomes more eminent.
As an audience we feel as if our own relative is passing and director Ichikawa's reserved and matter-of-fact style adds to the movie's melancholy and emotional impact.
The ending scene concludes with the singing of "Aogeba Totoshi" and somehow it seems more than appropriate.
The acting is restrained, yet effective and Terry Ito gives an impressive debut movie performance. 80's idol and "Kadokawa Heroine" Yakushimaru Hiroko also stars in the movie and is also quite good in her role as the supportive wife to Terry Ito.
Ichikawa's movies are unique in the fact that they deal with extracting the drama from the uneventful, common and almost mundane events in life. His non flashy and subtle, quiet style may not be for everyone but for those wanting touching drama amid the everyday events in everyone's life, then Ichikawa is definitely your guide.
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