Sayuri Sakamoto wrote a novel based on a story of a kid who was rejected by the world in many ways. His determination led him to more rejection that, in the end, metamorphosed into respect from the others and self assurance for him. The story soon shows unexpected turns and grabs you without mercy. Tetsu's story (our main character in the novel and the film) is sad and difficult, but his will, heart and purpose will lead him to his goals, mostly rejected by the elder.
The film takes the novel to a stunning adaptation. I can say, for sure, that this is the way a film should be done, in all respects. Humour, deep entertainment, a troubling insight of a teen's mind, a respectful view on things we usually don't or can't understand, and a beautiful way of telling it with all the technical resources we have at hand to tell a story.
The performances in this film are perfect and very complicated. Yûya Yagira (Yuyi, of Dare mo shiranai fame), again, delivers a super- powerful rendering of the troubled main character with just 15 years and carrying most of the weight of the film on his slender shoulders. The rest of the cast is superb and acting is pretty well ahead of any mainstream film.
Te complex nature of the novel called for a super-complex achievement on film. Shot both in Japan and Thailand, it takes us to breathless places, peoples and scenery. But, more complicated than all, tells the story with almost religious reverence. Shunsaku Kawake, the Director, did a job to which I take my hat off and will cherish and thank for the rest of my life.
The score by Ryûichi Sakamoto is so beautiful and in sync with the story you'll feel it should have been there from the beginning -and not even notice how powerful it is.
The amount of emotions is pretty hefty. To us, Westerners, it may seem quite subdued. Truth is, they're as raw as they come in Asian culture and I thank the producers not to let out of the film this essential treat.
Yuyi is a story apart. Watch him work his magic and you'll understand why he is one of the big guys on the Japanese scene, even when he's got just a couple of films.
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