It was the fastest selling session at JFF14. It sold out in a matter of days and was in high demand. Whether you managed to catch it or not, you surely heard the fuss about "Hanamizuki (Flowering Dogwood)". Did it live up to the hype? Samson Kwok takes a look at the teen romance, which was intruiingly based on a famous love song in Japan. Read on to see what you missed out on!
"Hanamizuki is a personal favourite of mine amongst all the films that I have seen at this year's Japanese Film Festival. It is perhaps not as accomplished in various aspects as a few of the others, but it has managed to touch me and tug at my heartstrings in a way that no other films have done.
Based on the lyrics of a moving love song by Yo Hitoto (played in full at the end of the film), this story about 2 young lovers is set in Hokkaido. Sae is a college girl who falls in a love with Kohei, a handsome young fisherman. The relationship is strong until Sae decides to move to Tokyo to fulfil her dreams. There, she meets Kitami, a talented photographer who happens to share her dreams...
Yui Aragaki gives a wonderful performance as the main character, though at times her stunning good looks actually serve as a distraction. The male lead, Toma Ikuta, is charming as the fisherman whom Sae loves. He starts off boyish but as the story goes on, he becomes a mature young man. There is much chemistry between Aragaki and Ikuta, which is key to the success of the film. The other main character is Junichi Kitami, the photographer Sae meets in Tokyo, played by Osamu Mukai who gives a likeable performance.
Hanamizuki begins with the line "May your love bloom for a hundred years." For the 2 hours that follow, viewers get to go on a journey with the film's 2 main characters, as their relationship develops and matures, turning from pure innocent love to deep undying love. It is quite an emotional journey, consisting of both happiness and bitterness, but bittersweet never feels as good as this.
Thanks to Samson for that recap for all of us that missed it. This is a notice, remember to book early for JFF15 as films are going to be selling like Wasabi Hotcakes!!!
See you all in Melbourne!