Norwegian Wood

"Very Good"

Norwegian Wood Review


"I once had a girl, or should I say she once had me?" So begins the eponymous Beatles song, which echoes literally and thematically through this delicately offbeat Japanese drama by Vietnamese filmmaker Tran.

Watanabe (Matsuyama) is a 19-year-old shaken to the core when his best pal (Kora) commits suicide. While comforting his grief-stricken girlfriend Naoko (Kikuchi), Watanabe begins to fall for her, but their mutual attraction only makes her depression worse so she flees to a healing retreat in the woods.

Watanabe's womanising pal Nagasawa (Tamayama) advises him to find another girl, but when he meets Midori (Mizuhara) the relationship is equally complicated.

Love seems just out of reach for him; maybe it doesn't really exist.

Based on the Haruki Murakami novel, the film has a tentative tone that makes it both deeply involving and oddly alienating. As a result, the story is more interesting than moving, even though there are huge emotional scenes along the way. And the brittle, sometimes stony performances by the cast don't make it easier to engage with the characters, even though we recognise their youthful yearnings.

Perhaps this is due to the subdued themes swirling around in the story. Suicide seems to follow Watanabe around, and yet he finds living slightly less terrifying than death. So he forges on. This is a young guy who hasn't figured out how things work, and yet he refuses to give up on a distant, idealised image of romance. And the fact that it's set in the late 1960s must mean something, although those unfamiliar with Japanese culture may find it hard to catch what that is.

By contrast to the rather icy story, Tran's visual sensibilities are lush and often breathtakingly beautiful. Every scene is shot with a fluid, panoramic attention to detail, capturing the settings in vivid, often unexpected ways.

And the sense of the characters within these spaces - from grassy wetlands to urban blight - is extremely powerful. But this is a story about relationships, specifically the elusiveness of finding someone we can fully connect with. Its gorgeous imagery lends weight to the literary story, although it's a shame we don't feel the characters' pain along with them.



Norwegian Wood

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 133 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 11th December 2010

Box Office USA: $13.0k

Box Office Worldwide: $17.6M

Distributed by: Independent Pictures

Production compaines: Asmik Ace Entertainment, Fuji Television Network, Dentsu, Sankei Shimbun, Sumitomo Corporation, WoWow, Kodansha

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 45 Rotten: 16

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Naoko, Kiko Mizuhara as Midori, Reika Kirishima as Reiko Ishida, as Hatsumi, Ken'ichi Matsuyama as Toru Watanabe, Tetsuji Tamayama as Nagasawa, Tokio Emoto as Storm Trooper, Kengo Kora as Kizuki, Takao Handa as Midori's Father

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

Advertisement
A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.