Netemo sametemo   2018   Japan Asako I & II
Asako I & II Image Cover
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Director:Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
Studio:C&I Entertainment
Writer:Tomoka Shibasaki, Sachiko Tanaka, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
IMDb Rating:6.6 (716 votes)
Awards:1 win & 6 nominations
Duration:119 min
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi  ...  (Director)
Tomoka Shibasaki, Sachiko Tanaka, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi  ...  (Writer)
Masahiro Higashide  ...  Baku / Ryôhei
Erika Karata  ...  Asako
Kôji Seto  ...  Kushihashi
Sairi Itô  ...  Haruyo
Misako Tanaka  ...  Eiko
Rio Yamashita  ...  Maya
Daichi Watanabe  ...  Okazaki
Kôji Nakamoto  ...  Hirakawa
Tofubeats  ...  Composer
Comments: 5 stars is how much I enjoyed it. A few script wrinkles are ironed out by the last shot. Ugh. What a perfect gut punch.

The film washes over you like the poster: watching someone sleep. Although thoroughly scripted, framed, and executed--it blazes through a large number of plot points at a surprising pace--it feels un-acted, like people simply caught on film.

Asako will depend a lot on what you bring to it. Is Asako selfish, or do things just happen to her? The dualities of this doppelganger are delicious. The director pulls the rug from under us several times, but not hard enough to make us fall. No genre play at work.

Very well cast. Asako, an adorably meek, blank canvas of selfish nothingness is the center of a group of supporting characters who all make an impression. They all have lived lives. When the screen time is theirs, it's their movie. Actors start with what they are given. Bad ones will act it out, good ones will become it.

Seems to me director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi not only has vision, he has the skill to bring it to fruition. He doesn't seem concerned with butts in seats, pleasing his audience, but he also doesn't commit the opposite sin of disrespecting (or cruelly manipulating) his audience. I'm an immediate fan. I must watch his 5 1/2 hour magnum opus Happy Hour now.

--I didn't want to describe any of the actual scenes in the film (I dunno why) but I have to point out there is a scene in this film where Asako opens a door that I was sure was going to be locked. It killed me. The choice of even trying to open it surprised me--.


Asako I & II (Netemo sametemo) [2018] • Japan
Director: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
There aren't enough stars in the universe

People staring pensively out the window of a moving vehicle. Check. Only briefly, to my chagrin. Lead actress delivers her big emotional moment in profile but her hair is covering her face because her head is bowed. Check. Umbrellas. Rain. People running. Check check and check. Philip Glass via a kazoo soundtrack. Check. Not really, but it is both absurdly odd and perfect.

Some young Japanese actresses, when they first show up onscreen appear incapable of doing anything. The bad ones try to act their way out of it. The good ones become the character. But what if the character is a meek, blank canvas of selfish nothingness? Maybe it's bad acting. I love that tension ... of immanent failure at any second.

Asako is described as "Dainty but determined"

She falls in love with an Osaka free spirit who goes out to buy shoes one day and never returns. Years later she moves to Tokyo and meets a salaryman who is Free Spirit's doppleganger. She falls in love again. In the meantime Free Spirit becomes a model and movie star (lol) He decides to return to Asako. Uh oh.

That sounds hokey, and it is.

There are a few big hokeys here, but overall the script is very clever. The story is simple with a lot of plot points. And, against sitenoise movie type, it burns through a lot of them very quickly. That's what's cool about the little blank canvas girl. There are several interesting people around her with reasonably interesting things happening to them. It's as if the world is moving at a quicker speed than Asako.

There is the big WTF question. WTF man. I was completely sold. I bought every minute of it. And then the last shot of the film comes along. WTF man. You have to ask yourself: "Is that love"?

Usually when I enjoy a film this much, especially one with a knockout blow like this one, I tend towards hyperbole. I've tried to contain myself here in the hope that you'll believe me: This is a good film. Looks like I have to watch the director's 5 1/2 hour magnum opus Happy Hour now.

I knew I was going to like it. Check the posters:

Summary: Asako is a 21-year-old woman, living in Osaka. She falls in love with Baku who has a free spirit. One day, Baku suddenly disappears. Two years later, Asako now lives in Tokyo and she meets Ryohei. He looks just like her ex-boyfriend Baku, but he has a completely different personality. Ryohei is a salaryman, with a sincere personality. Asako falls in love with Ryohei.

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