Norwegian Wood

Original Title: ノルウェイの森
Release date: December 11, 2010
Director: Anh Hung Tran
Novel by: Haruki Murakami
Screenplay by: Anh Hung Tran
Cast: Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara, Kengo Kora

Based on the much beloved novel by Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood is the story of Watanabe and Naoko (Kenichi Matsuyama and Rinko Kikuchi). The common bond between them is Kizuki (Kengo Kora), Watanabe’s best friend and Naoko’s first boyfriend.

Not long after our story begins, Kizuki kills himself, leaving both of these young souls broken and confused. Timidly, they both find solace in one another…but even that is fleeting as Kizuki cannot handle it all, and retreats to a sanatorium outside of Kyoto.

Watanabe’s heart belongs to her, regardless of how near or far she is. The heart however, is not without temptation, which is where spritely young Midori comes in. Despite being involved with another man, she takes a shining to Watanabe. They share an uneasy relationship: she seemingly screwing with him for her own amusement, he trying to numb the pain of being without the one he loves.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Well it is… if you read all of that in the book. Where the movie is concerned, it all gets overwrought with some perplexing direction. Maddeningly, it is the same mistake over and over. You see, this is primarily a very sad tale and the film doesn’t want you to miss that point. In fact, they are so sure you’ll miss these moments of profound sadness, they’ve gone through the trouble of underlining every one of them with a blaring, obtrusive, melodramatic score. This is such a shame, because the film is so beautiful to look at and contains some very moving performances.

It pains me to not be able to recommend this film, especially since it was *this* close to being a truly bittersweet experience. But those heavy-handed cues are just too much to ignore, and shook me out of the story like a ringing cellphone.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

by Ryan McNeil @ The Dark of the Matinee

4 Responses

  1. Amy says:

    Hey, McNeil~ How do you think it fares to the book though? I didn't think the book was amazing, it was okay. My favorite book of Murakami still is South of the Border, West of the Sun… ugh, that one tore me to pieces. LOL That book got me to buy all I could find by Murakami at the local bookstore. Still trying to get Kafka on the Shore.

  1. September 8, 2013

    […] Norwegian Wood (or Tokio Blues, in Spanish) is already being adapted into a film with a possible release for Dec’10, so it wasn’t a stretch to think about actual people playing the characters in the book. […]

  2. December 24, 2013

    […] thoughts on Let Me In (out in theaters in America), Black Swan (out in December in America), and Norwegian Wood (out in December in […]

  3. May 15, 2014

    […] then the band struggles. Kengo Kora — who can be seen in Aoi Miyazaki’s Solanin and the recent Norwegian Wood — plays Yukiya… the McCartney to Natsu’s Lennon. So you can […]

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