In a series of segments two different and contrasting high school students share experiences in their young lives as they idle away the extra time on their hands. One is serious and the ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Sôsuke Ikematsu
Motomi Makiguchi
Ayami Nakajô
Eiki Narita
Amane Okayama
Isao Okumura
Kumi Ryû
Masaki Suda
Takuji Suzuki
Shôhei Uno
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In a series of segments two different and contrasting high school students share experiences in their young lives as they idle away the extra time on their hands. One is serious and the other is brash and their encounters with each other's perspectives and others in town forms a moment in time that may be all too fleeting. Written by aghaemi

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2 July 2016 (Japan)  »

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A Once in a Lifetime Friendship
3 December 2016 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

It never once occurred to me that this film was based on a Manga. I happen to pick it out of many choices to see during Melbourne's 'Japanese Film Festival', certainly the type of film that wasn't over glamorized or overtly serious. The plot is centered on the lives of two high school boys who often hang out on a riverbank step after school. Seto is brash, charismatic, self-centered and quite daring though his sensitivities are visible as he has issues with his family and his cat. Utsumi is mature, hardworking and all-too- polite student who doesn't have much of anything to do before attending cram school, thus what actually brings them together. Their unlikely friendship is both endearing and hilarious as their conversations cover the many relatable topics of 17-year old's nearing their last years of High school and coming-of-age stages in life they'll have to take seriously. It's presented in a series of segments or chapters that acts as their own short films put together in a feature chronicling the boy's circumstances as well as the many other people they may encounter dealing with their ups and downs in life. All this revolving around the notion that their friendship is a 'Once in a Lifetime Friendship', knowing further on in life they'll be going on their separate ways.

American filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and Richard Linklater have explored the urban lifestyle of everyday lives. Celebrating the mundane existences of ordinary lives have become their signatory subject matter. 'Setoutsumi' is in a similar style and tradition as Jarmusch and Linklater, especially when you have two characters confined to one location, their conversations build upon their backstories, personalities, characteristics and overall development in the story. Despite the plot being very minimal, I really enjoyed the film, much of the drama surrounding the boys played a very minimal part in the development of their characters though when other character came into play, they were vital in seeing how these boys were able to connect and understand others especially in being part of the world around them. Most of the time their conversations and actions were both heartfelt and hilarious especially when it came to either one of them observing each other's behavior in response to their separate lives and concerns even beyond the point where they are now.

The film doesn't aim to be anymore larger than what it is, a small scale quirky, deadpan humorous take on the lives of ordinary high school boys personally questioning their place in the world as well as their obnoxious circumstantial nature. The film's ability to take an everyday occurrence and giving it a humorous twist especially in it's unique Japanese style and cultural context is it's biggest strength. Kudos as well to the two performers Masaki Suda and Sosuke Ikematsu who play the title characters, their performances are incredibly robust and natural its hard for me to think they're actually acting. Other stand outs include Ayami Nakajo, who plays Ichigo Kashimura; a school girl locked into a strange love triangle with the boys, though this subplot is play very minimally, the character and performer herself was a stand out even as a minor the last segment purely focuses on. Other minors are also memorable and give just as much intellectual though to the narrative as our two leads.

Overall, It's a fine film that celebrates the relatable, mundane existence of two high school students experiencing their unlikely once in a lifetime friendship. The humorous twist on the film's essential subject matter is both hugely entertaining as it's insightful. Japanese high school dramas can be either hugely glamorized or overtly serious, this one just happens to put a bit of a satire on the real world scenario at play here. Adult viewers might even see themselves in this story as almost a means to relive their past memories of years long gone. I recommend it as essential piece of Japanese Cinema that has hugely impressed this year, the film you could relax to and be comfortably entertained by.


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