Monday, May 11, 2009

Crying Out Love, In the Center Of The World

Sekai no chûshin de, ai o sakebu ( Crying Out Love, In The Center Of The World ) is the Japanese film adaptation of Kyoichi Katayama's sleeper smash-hit novel Socrates In Love, a story that slowly swept across Japan to became a multi-media phenomenon spanning manga, a tv series, and this film.

"Crying Out Love" is a story of love, loss, and eventual closure. It's a seemingly simple tale of romance and tragedy that succeeds in being bigger that the usual Lifetime Channel fare you'd expect. Yeah, this movie is an absolute tearjerker that will set you back a box of tissues, but somehow it never manages to feel like cheap manipulation and overwrought melodrama. This is the type of film that I wouldn't normally seek out, but I was indeed moved, and a week later I still can't stop thinking about what I watched.

In the film, we meet Saku (portrayed by Takao Osawa), a 30ish man with an oppressive air of sadness to him as he slogs through life in his with a heavy heart. An unexpected return to his hometown stirs up a painful past. With an old walkman, he tours the cold, gray town as he goes through a pocketful of cassette tapes, listening to the youthful voice of a beautiful girl named Aki. (Masami Nagasawa) The tapes were an audio diary of sorts, and through Aki's voice and Saku's vivid flashbacks we learn what happened to his first love.

As the story of the past unfolds, a new plot line surfaces as Saku soul-searches for closure to his grief, as well as coming to terms with his fiance, Ritsuko (Kou Shibasaki), who's also listening to one of the tapes herself, and is piecing together the story from other sources. The result is powerful, lovely film that's impossible to forget.

Crying Out Love, In the Center Of The World is beautifully shot and directed by Isao Yukisada. The color palette changes with the mood of the story, at times wonderfully sunny or sadly subdued as needed. The centerpiece of this film is the terrific acting of the two youthful leads, Mirai Moriyama and Masami Nagasawa. Their portrayal of two young people in love is critical to the movie working, and they succeed wonderfully, carrying the film to it's full potential. The soundtrack completes the film, including a gorgeous piano solo performed by Masami's character.

The only drawback you may find is that there's no domestic DVD available over here, at least not right now, so a little extra hunting might be needed. I'd say it's very worth it.

You can see the trailer Here

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