I guess fair is fair considering all of Hollywood's remakes of outstanding Japanese horror films, but as a devoted fan of Alexander Payne's 2004 film and Rex Pickett's novel, I wasn't sure how well this effort would translate into Japanese culture.
The movie's start is plodding. There is a lot of narrative by the Michio Saito character to set up the story. I found his character truly unlikable, but then again, so was Miles to a lesser degree. The chemistry between Michio Saito and Daisuke Uehara was lacking, making it difficult to accept that these two were ever really friends. As the supposed ladies man Jack character of this version, Daisuke Uehara was pretty unbelievable.
All of the acceptable behaviors of Japanese society and culture are present in the film. The characters don't take on the American traits of the characters from the 2004 movie or Pickett's novel. Even when completely outraged or even angry (such as the revelation that Daisuke Uehara is fooling around while engaged to another woman), the characters show very little to viewers beyond raised voices to one another. There is no smashing of Daisuke Uehara's face by his unknowing mistress or screaming, crying and then running off.
The biggest omission for me in this movie is wine. The book and the movie emphasize the connection that wine has to the characters and especially Miles. Here, wine is more of a prop. Only one character has any real connection to wine and it isn't Michio Saito. He seems to enjoy the wine, but without the almost fanatical devotion shown by Miles.
It was an interesting effort, but one that I personally wouldn't care to view more than once.
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