Actress Keiko Kitagawa has starred in many film and TV roles, and through the course of her short career, she is unquestionably most acknowledged for her role as Sailor Mars in the hit "Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon" Japanese television drama. Through the successful venture that was "Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon", Keiko Kitagawa has become an increasingly popular actress who has had minor roles in such international films as "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift". With her career blossoming, Keiko Kitagawa has landed her first main role in Kazuyuki Morosawa's "Dear Friends", a story that details the true meaning of friendship.
"Dear Friends" follows the exploits of Japanese high school student Rina (Keiko Kitagawa), whose increasingly malevolent behavior affects those close to her. She parties frequently, shows total disregard for her parents, and believes friends are just people "to use and dispose of". In fact, the opening scenes of "Dear Friends" showcase her twisted philosophy quite well; after one of Rina's friends discovers Rina has slept with her boyfriend, Rina is then questioned about her the motive behind the heinous act in which she promptly proclaims to her friend that "friends are to be used". But, all it not entirely well with physically well with Rina. When she periodically begins to show signs of sickness, she is taken into the doctor only to discover that she has cancer. With no one to support her through the ordeal, Rina slowly begins to discover the importance of friendship through visiting classmate Maki (Yuika Motokariya), who arrives unannounced to support Rina through her hardships.
"Dear Friends"conceptuallyis a film that portrays a meaningful attachment to the word "friendship". Numerous people think they have "friends", but do these people we accompany really deserve the title of being called a "friend"? The protagonist in "Dear Friends" is a confused individual, who like many people, is so infatuated with their own endeavors and selfish tendencies, fail to see how their actions affect themselves and the many individuals around them. When Rina rejects the many offers of genuine friendships that are presented to her throughout the film, it is not only the person she quickly rejects, but also her own willingness to accept emotional growth. Repeatedly throughout "Dear Friends" this is showcased, hinting around that Rina is a metaphor for one's illusion regarding what is true friendshipand what is not. Always running to individuals that "please" her rather than truly look out for her best interests, Rina is totally flabbergasted when her classmate Maki considers her a "friend". It's through her astonishment that she begins to find her true self and as well as true friends.
Director Kazuyuki Morosawa shoots "Dear Friends" exceptionally well. There are scenes within "Dear Friends" that he able to deliver an effective cause and effect to the screenshowcasing the frustration and mental anguish that Rina is portraying at the moment. Similarly, Keiko Kitagawa delivers a great performance as the emotionally detached Rina as well Yuika Motokariya who portrays her helpful and caring classmate Maki. Overall great performances.
In the end, "Dear Friends" is film that reconsiders the true essence of genuine friendship. The film does falter somewhat in its execution (specifically towards its conclusion) as well as become a little cliché in attempting to portray certain situations that arise in the film. But, "Dear Friends" does convey a strong message of friendship and willingness for one to change their life for the ultimate better, and that is what makes "Dear Friends" worth a watch.
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