Director and screenplay: Nakagawa Ryūtarō
Photography: Konno Yasuhiro
· Nakamura Eriko
· Okito Takashi
· Ikematsu Sōsuke
· Nakamura Asaka
· Takahashi Manami
· Mitsuishi Ken
Production: Tokyo New Cinema
Running Time: 80 min
Release Date: October 26, 2014
Official Site: tokyonewcinema.com
After the loss of a dear friend, teenage Natsumi ponders suicide. They will make it desirable for a teacher’s intervention and a mother’s letter. Natsuki is an old dancer who has not been able to chase his dream because of a particularly dramatic family situation. Having grown up, he lands the lunar giving home-made lunches and leads a lonely life until a boy does contact her father hated her for the rest of his life. At the same time, struck by the suicide of one of his victims and by his sister’s reaction, a Natsuo chopper decides to put on the traces of his younger sister to save her from a life of drug and prostitution. The fate of the three characters is intimately linked to each other.
After launching in 2012 with two films shot with Emoto Yōichi (Calling and Tale of a Raindrop), young Nakagawa Ryūtarō returns behind the camera solo, with a couple of works made in the same year: Plastic Love Story and this August in Tokyo.
The English title refers to the names of the three protagonists, Natsumi, Natsuki and Natsuo, all three containing the “summer” kanji, but the original title, “A Little Love Story” (clear to the original title of the previous and already quoted Tale of a Raindrop) reveals more explicitly the content of the film. Enclosed in the present of a frame featuring the young Natsumi, the main body of this Nakagawa solo opera focuses on the tragic circumstances that, in a distant past summer, have led to the happy birth of the love story between Natsuki and Natsuo, of whom the infant girl finally finds her daughter (not for nothing Natsumi means “summer fruit”). Like many contemporary Japanese films, August in Tokyo is based on complex and dramatic family situations, which include home violence, suicide, orphaned children, divisions, and grudges, but the filmmaker mostly leaves a message of optimism: for if it is It is true that certain relationships that are now corrupted or impaired can no longer be fully repaired, a positive, courageous and generous approach can help, if supported by the case, to resolve their internal disagreements. And this is the first step to turn the page and find elsewhere the affection that could not be received by those who were lost.
Nakagawa paves the way for this parallel and cross-linked story by alternating and resonating the separate events of the two protagonists to highlight their similarities, suggesting a sense of communion of pain that can offer salvation and consolation to humans beyond the barriers of space (as for Natsuki and Natsuo) and time (as with Natsumi, who exceeds the desire to commit suicide by listening to the stories of his parents and a teacher who has experienced similar problems in his youth). Unfortunately, the ambitions of the director, as well as his autobiographical flair (some schoolchildren and a little free in the use of field depth and alternate mounting; an independent film aesthetic – with the shoulder chamber that follows shaky daggers of the characters – not kept to the bottom) are not supported by an adequate solidity. At the level of interweaving, the characters’ actions often seem unapproachable and useful to bring back the accounts at all costs with obvious forcing, while stylistically the film snoops at times of inconsistency, and this is particularly evident in the excessive tone of the dramatic climax that betrays the dry realism of the central part (the best). However, a work of remarkable and promising maturity, if one takes into account the young age of its author (just 24 years).