Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Original Title: Netemo sametemo
Japan/France, 2018. Bitters End, C&I Entertainment, Comme des Cinémas, Elephant House, Nagoya Broadcasting Network, Netemo Sametemo Production Committee. Screenplay by Sachiko Tanaka, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, based on Netemo Sametemo by Tomoka Shibasaki. Cinematography by Yasuyuki Sasaki. Music by Tofubeats. Film Editing by Azusa Yamazaki. Cannes Film Festival 2018. Toronto International Film Festival 2018.
A meet-cute between Asako and Baku immediately results in love, they see each other, he kisses her before even speaking to her, and she is instantly infatuated. Asako’s best friend is worried that her friend might be more into her boyfriend than he is into her, he seems aimless and has a tendency to disappear for lengthy periods at a time, plunging Asako into anxiety when he does. Then he disappears and never comes back, and she is devastated; we catch up with Asako (Erika Karata) two years later when she is working at a coffee shop in Tokyo and meets a businessman named Ryohei. He looks exactly like Baku (from the viewer’s perspective, that’s because they are both played by Masahiro Higashide), and she embarrasses herself by mistaking him for her missing boyfriend, but he doesn’t mind and asks her out. Then we catch up with them five years later, a happy couple living happily together, and Baku shows up out of nowhere, challenging her to decide if she wants the man who gave her such insecure passion or the one who offers security but not as much excitement. Beautiful cinematography and a strong cast of actors make something delicate out of this mundane melodrama, one whose telling is hampered by the fact that Asako is not a particularly interesting or challenging character, when she’s not elusive she’s just passive. The actors who play her friends in each romance, Sairi Itô as Haruyo and Rio Yamashita as Maya, are far more interesting and charismatic, I regret that the movie isn’t about either of them instead.