A high-school girl named Makoto acquires the power to travel back in time, and decides to use it for her own personal benefits. Little does she know that she is affecting the lives of others just as much as she is her own.
Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.
On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.
Imagine a commonplace story in commonplace settings with a not so immensely interesting main character (a bit like you and me) and a pastoral kinda hippie-message... and it works!
This is another memory-thingie from Japan (they are obsessed with memory there, is that because of the Meiji period? who knows), from the genius who brought us Grave of the Fireflies.
The story's so simple: a young woman in her late 20s doesn't have any real problems, is kind of ready for the rest of her life to happen, but it's just not happening. Something seems to be in the way of her accepting the possibility of happiness in the simple things that she finds on her way, and that that might just be what she's looking for and therefore enough.
A trip to the countryside brings back memories of her childhood as the youngest of three in a middle-of the road household in late 60's Japan. The thing is, it is SO well-done. Often, films focus on the misery of this life and the sweet innocent splendor of youth. This one turns it upside down, and not by depicting a horrible childhood which has to be "taken care of". Just by looking at things the way a child does.
It's often the little things, that seem of no importance to adults, that mould a child, shape it's personality. The "small killings" so to speak. Events no one notices and no one readily remembers, but no one really forgets either. And when you remember them, they hurt in a way that you find unreasonable.
So with this film. The flashbacks of not really a "missed opportunity" childhood, but rather of small events that stuck, chills you and sometimes fills you with warmth. It suggests at the same time that though there might be events that made her what she is, she also always was who she is, and it's the interplay between who you are and what you encounter that shape your life. You might say "it might have gone a different way", but then again it didn't exactly because you are you. Very Tao if you ask me. How it ends... just go and find out.
The fact that the film, entirely inconspicuously, manages to pull it off to tell that in images, makes it great art. The subtitles are hazardous (sometimes too fast, too much on the screen...), but let that not spoil the splendor. Get out and rent it now. I bought it.
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