[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
[ Cast ]
• KITAGAWA Keiko Tsukasa
• NISHIKIDO Ryo Masami
[ Staff ]
• Screenplay: SAITO Hiroshi
• Screenplay: SHIOTA Akihiko
• Cinematography: KIKUMURA Tokusho
• Lighting: NAGATA Hidenori
• Sound Recording: IKA Makio
[ Production Company ]
‘I Just Wanna Hug You’ Film Partners
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
[ Production Studio ]
Release Date: February, 1st, 2014
Running Time: 123 min
Genre: Drama, Romance, Feature
Screening Format: DCP
Screen Size: American Vista (1:1.85)
Subtitle: English, DCP
Screening Format with Subtitles
[ Story ]
Feature length love story from Resurrection
director Shiota Akihiko, and his first film since Dororo
seven years ago. Authentic portrait of the warm love and tragic fate of a reallife couple living in Abashiri, Hokkaido.
Tsukasa (Kitagawa Keiko), who is paralyzed on the left side of her body and suffers from memory loss, meets taxi driver Masami (Nishikido Ryo). Tsukasa is always smiling and has a positive outlook, despite her severe disabilities. Masami admires her attitude, and begins to think about marrying Tsukasa, but…
[ Official Site ]
Masaki (Nishikido Ryō) is a young taxi driver who plays basketball with his friends during his free time. One day, the gym they use is booked at the same time by a group of paraplegics. In the following discussion, she met Tsubasa (Kitagawa Keiko), a beautiful girl who lost her legs and arm after a car accident and still suffers after years of memory holes. Masaki accompanies her home and slowly a friendship grows between the two that then, despite Tsubasa’s fears, flows into love. Masaki is determined: he presents Tsubasa to his parents, knows his mother and convinces everyone to approve their marriage. Tsubasa is pregnant and shortly after the wedding ceremony, she gives birth to a baby. But the adverse fate hits her again and, due to a very rare case of liver infection, dies a few days after delivery.
Tear-melodramas with a tragic ending are an evergreen subgenre of Japanese cinema. Each of them is similar to the previous ones, each one tries to add some originality. In this case, the peculiarity lies in the name of the director, Shiota Akihiko, one of the authors on which he pointed the criticism in the late 90s. Trained in the famous film club of the Rikkyō University in Tokyo – which under the leadership of the scholar Hasumi Shigehiko, had among its members Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Aoyama Shinji and Shinozaki Makoto debuted in 1983 with Falala, who won the PIA Film Festival. After many years working as a screenwriter, he returned to directing in 1999 with Gekkō no sasayaki (Moonlight Whispers), an emotional story involving teenagers interwoven with sadistic impulses, followed by Gaichū (Harmful Insect, 2001), an interesting portrait of the degradation of a thirteen-year-old (a very young Miyazaki Aoi). Later he signed two more interesting titles, Yomigaeri (Resurrection, 2003) and Kanaria (2005), and then virtually disappear (if the indifferent Dororo is excluded, 2007). Return now with this conventional story based on a true story, which brings a couple of touches that reminiscent of the author of the past.
Perhaps the most original aspect is to avoid the usual tension between love and death until the final tragedy. Shiota instead starts five years after the death of the protagonist, with the father and son who take it with them in memory. A long backward ellipsis and begins the love story between the two, told without too much mawkishness. While respecting the codes of the genre, Shiota even manages to give the story a bit ‘of realism, highlighting the problems that the two young people meet progressively. The scene in which Tsubasa’s mother (Fubuki Jun), in trying to dissuade the two lovers from their marriage project, shows them the footage of the hospital rehabilitation of a destroyed Tsubasa, even if too long, is indicative of the director’s attitude. Attitude confirmed by a small touch of class: after the credits, a short but touching scene from the amateur movie of the true wedding of the girl whose story inspired the film.
Despite the excessive length of the film – whose original title means “I would like to hug you” and some frankly useless scenes, what remains in the mind of the viewer is the feeling of the importance of the present. Masaki’s determination to overcome the practical problems of his love for Tsubasa, the serene presence of the child at the beginning and at the end, the participation of his and her mother’s parents, remind us how death is part of life and how the most important thing is life itself. In this, the sorrowful serenity that I have encountered in many Japanese before and after the death of some relatives, in essence with regard to death itself, has something to teach us.
Dakishimetai is not a great movie but not totally taken for granted as the genre might suggest. To this result contributes a remarkable performance of Kitagawa Keiko in the part of Tsubasa and a good collaboration of all the supporting actors (families and friends). The musician, singer and diver Nishikido Ryō honestly does his job without doing damage and in a scene can even walk on his hands.
Set in the village of Abashiri – which evokes the namesake prison that fifty years ago saw the first deeds on the screen of Takakura Ken – the film shows in the exteriors a snowy Hokkaidō that is both natural environment and landscape of the soul always involves.