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Hanamizuki
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 from votes
Release: 21 August 2010 (Japan) /

Hanamizuki

Genre: Drama
Director: Noriko Yoshida,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Sae (Yui Aragaki) is a high school student who is studying hard for her college entrance exams. She lost her father when she was very young and so lives her mother Ryoko (Hiroko Yakushimaru) in Hokkaido, Japan. Her father Kemimichi (Arata) once planted a dogwood tree in their garden after he found out he had a terminal disease and could not watch Sae grow up. She hopes to enter a university in Tokyo. She then meets Kouhei (Toma Ikuta), who attends a specialized high school teaching fishery. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a fisherman. These two young people meet and have a long distance relationship. Although their love is strong it does not last. 10 years later these two people have a miracle ... (Source: Asian Wiki)

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Critic Reviews


The lines seems to have been drawn in genre terms in contemporary Japanese cinema. Many are attracted by the package of young starlets and hit pop music. Others are repelled by the heavy-handed plot contrivances and schmaltzy dialogue. You make your choice and either pay up or walk away.

Two young lovers 'meet cute' on the train, but find educational, social and class differences pulling them apart as time goes on.

My foot is firmly in the latter camp, but I can't help feeling the lightweight scripts and low-key catharsis are a shame, as there is much to admire in Hanamizuki, namely the performances by the two leads. Yui Aregaki (Sae) gives a reigned-in performance as the ambitious girl from small-town Hokkaido, her admirable restraint hinting at greater strength and complexity. Tôma Ikuta as Kohei finds family and social circumstances pile against his chances of walking his own path, or more pertinently walking a path with Sae. Ikuta is charismatic and looks like he could hold his own if given stronger fare to work with.

As it is, sappy sentimentality and lazy coincidences once again pile up to sink a J-film. Why are people always just 'turning up' in these films? Sae's Mum turns up at her apartment in NYC. Sae herself 'turns up' at a hometown wedding. She turns up again at the lighthouse Kohei is visiting. Kohei turns up in the Canadian town Sae was born in on the EXACT day she chooses to visit. Would a little cause-and-effect be unwelcome? Even at the end, Sae just turns up, and eventually, so does Kohei. Not even a cuddle. Go figure.

There is a demographic for this film and I am clearly not in it, but neither are the vast majority of overseas audiences, and that is ultimately damaging. Japanese society in many areas is developing a Galapagos phenomenon, the notion of separate evolution. For a cinema that used to produce to universal acclaim, that is a tragedy.

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