As a total fan of Shunji Iwai, "Harufuwei" was a must-see for me. Even though he did not direct the film, he wrote it, produced it, and his style can be felt all throughout the story. For Eriko Kitakawa as a director I believe this is an awesome debut, I look forward to see more of her work in directing.
The story is simple... overwhelmingly simple, and in the same manner overwhelmingly sweet. Do not expect lots of action, lots of comedy, lots of exciting entertainment, lots of passionate romance, or lots of anything that we don't see in real life, because that's what it portrays: a little piece of real life. Basically it is the story of a naive Highschool romance like the one we all had or dreamed about having. It shows the innocence of shy couples that is becoming less and less common in today's world, and most importantly, it shows the stage in life where teenagers try to find identity through their emotions and uncertainty about their future.
I liked this movie more than I was expecting that I would. It brought back a lot of memories and made me feel nostalgic. More than once, while looking at the characters and their situations I could not avoid a smile while thinking, "yeah, that's life... that's me..." I really appreciate this kind of movies to learn more about the "simple complexity" of the human heart. What do we do when our heart goes in one direction but our mind goes in another? What do we do when we have emotions but we are scared to express them? What does it mean to have someone special? What does it mean to "trust," "believe," and "love?" We see topics like these throughout the film.
The actors did a great job. The film would have been totally different if it had not been for the main characters. Once again I am surprised by the excellence of performance in young Japanese actors. Not only is there the great performance, but also the superb chemistry between them. Every look from Kitano Kii is full of emotion, so much that -in conjunction with the documentary style the movie was shot- at times I felt like I was interrupting the privacy of two young lovers.
The cinematography of this movie is very typical of this kind of films, and couldn't have been better. Shot in documentary style, the camera probably hand-held, we feel everything more real... as if being in the middle of the story itself. The low contrast look only enhances the experience. It reminded me of other films like "Rainbow Song," or even "Hana and Alice" by Iwai. Even though not as amazing as those, it gets quite close. Harufuwei is not a masterpiece, but a cute little poem made a movie.
I give it 9 out of 10 because I wish it had been longer. Even though it is a somewhat slow movie, I did not feel the time at all. I was hoping it would last twice as long as it was.
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