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I'm the kind of person who likes to try random genres of film, and I have a special weakness for anything from Japan and Korea. Without hesitation I gave "Halfway" a try.
It's a very simple story about two high school seniors who fall for each other and then find themselves on diverging paths. Nothing particularly original here. The dialogue and the romance stays as basic as what I imagine a relationship at the grade school level would be like in the West. That surprised me to say the least, although being as the story is set in rural Hokkaido, the northern Island of Japan, far from futuristic Tokyo, it is believable.
The cinematography is excellent, despite being shot hand held, it captures the warm fading glow of autumn, a good allusion to the senior year of high school. Interesting also is that most of the scenes could be anywhere in North America, or even Europe, instead of the focus on Tokyo's concrete jungle we often see in films set in Japan.
The deal maker or breaker for this film is the pacing, the dialogue, and ultimately the story. If you like slow pacing, limited bursts of dialogue that try to convey a sense of what I can only imagine is a real high school relationship in this setting, you will enjoy this film. On the other hand, if you prefer faster pacing, more complex story lines and dialogue with more wit or edge, you will find this film's 85 minutes excessively long.
I tend to lean towards the latter but I take exception for this film because it gave me a slice of life from somewhere I could never have experienced, in a beautifully shot package.
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