Sparked by The Beatles song, Toru (Matsuyama) reflects on his life in the 1960s and the suicide of his friend Kizuki (Kora). Picking up the pieces, he draws close to Naoko, Kizuki's girlfriend. As the two deal with their grief, another woman enters Toru's life, changing it forever.
Toyko, 1968. Students are in revolt as pupil Toru (Kenichi Matsuyama) watches his life unravel: his friend Kizuki (Kengo Kora) commits suicide, he falls for Kizuki’s ex Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi), before the emotional torment lands her in a sanatorium. Based on Haruki Murakami’s novel, Anh Hung Tran’s adaptation is a sumptuous experience, ’60s Japan as a dream-like world of beguiling interior design and stunning landscapes. In the novel, events are filtered through naive youth and the nostalgic 37 year-old narrator. But this offers no distance on Toru. His solipsism and fear of women infect the film, turning a lyrical exercise in cinema and sound into a cold fashion show representing all women as absolutely nuts. It’s hard to take, no matter how many perfect sofas and shorelines are on show.
Murakami's 'unadaptability' for the screen is self-evident to fans of his books, but this is a noble if bleak first stab.
Reviewed by Andrew Male