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Norwegian Wood (2010)
"Noruwei no mori" (original title)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 6,719 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 47 user | 133 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

Toru recalls his life in the 1960s, when his friend Kizuki killed himself and he grew close to Naoko, Kizuki's girlfriend, and another woman, the outgoing, lively Midori.

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Title: Norwegian Wood (2010)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Toru Watanabe
...
Naoko
Kiko Mizuhara ...
Midori
Kengo Kôra ...
Kizuki
Reika Kirishima ...
Dr. Reiko Ishida
...
Hatsumi
Tokio Emoto ...
Storm Trooper
Takao Handa ...
Midori's Father
Yusuke ...
High School Classmate
Yuki Ito ...
Student Activist
Kentaro Tamura ...
Student Activist
Makoto Sugisawa ...
Student Activist
Kohei Yoshino ...
Student Activist
Sawako Okuma ...
College Girl
Haruka Masuda ...
College Girl
Edit

Storyline

Upon hearing the song "Norwegian Wood," Toru (Matsuyama) remembers back to his life in the 1960s, when his friend Kizuki killed himself and he grew close to Naoko, Kizuki's girlfriend. As the two try, in very different ways, to contend with their grief, Toru forms a bond with another woman, Midori. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

1960s | woods | grief | sea | birthday | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 December 2010 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Noruwei no mori  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,068 (USA) (6 January 2012)

Gross:

$13,068 (USA) (6 January 2012)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Venice Film Festival 2010 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone
Lyrics and music by Irmin Schmidt and Jaki Liebezeit
Performed by Can
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Nutshell Review: Norwegian Wood
16 April 2011 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

Based upon the novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung boldly translates the story to the big screen with a cast of familiar faces in Kenichi Matsuyama and Rinko Kikuchi in lead roles, but somehow this attempt seemed to float along rather casually into a typical tale of a love triangle, loss and sexuality without much emotional depth. Set in the late 1960s in Japan with a whole host of student turmoil, this aspect of the story got shelved aside to focus more on the personal coming of age tale of Toru Watanabe (Matsumaya) and the women in his life.

So putting aside the various one night stands he benefited from hanging out with casanova Nagasawa (Tetsuji Tamayama), Watanabe has to choose between Naoko (Kikuchi), a girl whom he knows from his younger days when she was the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki (Kengo Kora) who inexplicably committed suicide, and that of Midori (Kiko Mizuhara putting in a very charismatic performance) who actually had made the first move in getting to know him better, although stopping short of going the full distance given a boyfriend whom we never see on screen.

Depending on your preference and emotional pull toward broad stereotypes of people, the two girls are very much distinct in their personalities, one being an emotional wreck given the loss of Kizuki and spending her time in rehabilitation, which accounted for the many lush, green and white sceneries depending on the calendar month, while the other is a perpetual sunshine, confident, outgoing and attractively lively. It's pessimism versus optimism, although you'd probably understand Watanabe's obligation toward Naoko having spent time growing up together, losing their mutual friend and growing close, not to mention an awkward deflowering process that happened to seal the emotional deal and attachment.

And you wonder if you'd call that love, or attraction even, as opposed to the proposition with another girl who had entered into a crossroads in his life, being stuck in time having to want to care for someone close, versus a new opportunity being presented with Midori's presence. Tran's vision puts one into a deliberately slow paced evaluation as Watanabe struggles to understand his emotional predicament and dilemma presented, where if one doesn't know how to proceed at a forked road ahead, one stalls for time, and stalling is what this film felt like.

But thanks to cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bin, this allows for plenty of beautiful postcard picturesque shots of the countryside, and many visually stunning captures of emotions of the characters at hand, allowing sensitive, moving moments to come through, and even chances to showcase a long tracking shot set out in the fields which flip flops across the screen as Naoko shares with Watanabe her oft confused state. My favourite however involved that between Watanabe and Midori in a snow filled landscape, cold in scenery but completely filled with the warmth of heart. The cinematography added a boost in the mundane state of characterization, and when things can't move forward, at least your eyes can start to roam at the well crafted technical shots and composition of the film, in addition to the era of the 60s.

The subplots of the rich story tried to muscle its way into the film but ultimately got sacrificed to stay focus on the primary trio, in a tale about finding it tough to let go and move on without being perceived as uncaring. And just when I thought the story had finally found its grounding from which to move off, in comes a deus ex machina moment to help propel it forward, taking off the shine of emotional roller-coaster of the previous two hours, which made it all seem a little futile and a waste. Draw your own conclusions if you will since the film left things unsatisfying open ended, and what you take away from the film, will probably be self reflective. I tried to love this film, but ultimately I can't.


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