|Rippu van winkuru no hanayome 2016 Japan A Bride for Rip Van Winkle|
Haru Kuroki is beyond fabulous from beginning to end. Iwai should have found a couple actors to support her.
The first scene brought rain to the edges of my eyes. I'm a sucker for these depictions of Zenly enduring, kind and capable, ultra-feminine baby-talking pillars of strength Japanese women. Haru Kuroki nails it immediately and I know what I'm in for: This Charming Girl level character painting, only Japanese, which is better. Kuroki is humiliated from several angles and perseveres. Her world falls apart big and fast, culminating in a slow motion walk along the river pushing two suitcases accompanied by major melodramatic music to end the first act, at about the one hour mark. I hadn't noticed the soundtrack up to this point (which is a good thing, I think), but this scene is gigantic. It blew me away in its stylish gutsiness, I had to pause the film and catch my breath. I was fist pumping the air at how good this was going, already looking to place the film in the pantheon of great Japanese cinema.
In retrospect, the film should have ended right there, crescendo'd to the heavens, leaving me frustrated in love, begging for more. My two highest rated Iwai films are Undo and April Story, at 47 and 67 minutes respectively. Just sayin'.
So I come back to the flick and Kuroki's on a phone call, and then she starts walking again to big music. This time it feels obnoxious, Kurosawa-esque, and the film starts falling apart quickly.
Bottom line: you know an actor is in trouble when he brings gimmick to every scene: big complicated shoes, eating-acting, fashion statements above his pay grade, chewing gum. Gô Ayano is terrible here, looking for accents or spices to give his character some flavor, and becomes a constant distraction for the rest of the film.
Cocco isn't an actress. She a majorly intense personality. A couple big name directors highlighted her strengths in films about her. Iwai calls upon her to act, and drives the film off into the weeds making Acts II and III about her. She's Rip Van Winkle.
In Acts II and III, the slumber party style scenes go on way too long. The music is ridiculous in trying to add some whoopy-whoopy to nothingness. Go-go Man irritates in his attempt to be someone cool like Brad Pitt.
Iwai does Iwai very well. He has a mature mark, but doesn't unpack his stories well. I don't even know what I'm watching any more as the film meanders into its third hour. Too many people giving too many long winded speeches, trying to find a poignancy even if it's not quiet. All things lead to an embarrassing scene with Cocco's mother, after a confusingly scripted denouement (what did she know and when did she know it) spoils any chance of redemption. Quiet poignancy made a few appearances but never took hold.
Summary: Nanami is an apathetic, part-time junior high school teacher, whose only solace comes from connecting with others on "Planet", a new social network service. One day, a young man named Tetsuya messages her and asks to meet in person. The two begin dating and quickly become engaged. When Testuya begs Nanami to increase her guest list for the wedding, Nanami reaches out to online-friend, Amuro, a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, who hires actors to play Nanami's guests on her big day. A few weeks following the ceremony, Tetsuya's mother confronts Nanami with allegations of lying and cheating. Heartbroken and despondent, Nanami checks herself into a hotel and manages to get hired there as a maid. One day, Amuro offers Nanami a housekeeping job in an old mansion, whose sole resident's infectious spirit helps Nanami to open her heart. However, Nanami soon realizes that Amuro, the mansion, and its occupant aren't what they seem - and even dreams have limits.