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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you have seen a couple of Oobayashi Nobuhiko's films before, you'll
recognize within minutes that this movie was directed by him. The story
unfolded in a distinctly odd and quirky Oobayashi-style that I'm sure
his fans would enjoy. Personally, I felt it was slightly over-done, but
it kept me interested to the end.
Before I get any farther with the film review, this movie made me realize once again that... Nagasaku Hiromi is SUCH A GOOD ACTRESS! I'm certain I'll remember her performance in this film years from now, even if I have forgotten what the movie was about. Not that there was anything wrong with the story or other actors, but her presence in this movie was so overwhelming that my eyes were locked on her whenever she was on the screen. She's not stunningly beautiful or overly unique, but there's something about her acting that really moves me. I connected with every single character I've seen her play, and I will definitely be following her acting career.
Sorry for the rant, I'll get back to the movie now...
This movie is another tragedy about a woman with limited time to live. What separates this film from others is that the story revolves around a "last trip" back to her "hometown at heart". She's not visibly sick or in hospital bed for most of the play time. Nagasaku Hiromi portrays a strong woman who's always positive, yet concerned about those left behind. There were many sad moments, but it's a feel-good movie.
I was originally concerned with Nanbara Kiyotaka as the leading actor. A former comedian who is also an extremely talented TV host, but his acting career, as in "L change the worLd", was completely disastrous. Despite the very serious role and that he had to match an extremely talented actress, he coped very well. It could've been the director's presentation, but he made a convincing husband.
This movie was mostly directed very well, and the characters developed at a good pace. I especially enjoyed the many nostalgia-inducing scenes showing how tough times in the past are sometimes fun memories when you look back. There is a major flaw in this movie for me, and that's the ending. I felt the poorly constructed CG firework scenes dragged on for WAY too long, and it was extremely corny how EVERY character appeared in an organized manner. Also, I didn't appreciate the whole Clammbon song, which was very unnecessary for me.
Otherwise a very good movie that had very strong acting, direction, and touching story.
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