Norwegian Wood

By James Burbidge

Country: Japan
Running time: 133min
Certificate: TBC
Directed by: Tran Anh Hung
Featuring: Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara

Norwegian Wood

Based on the bestselling book of the same title by Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood is a love story set in 60s Japan. Across the world, a whole generation is in revolt, but for young Watanabe (played by Kenichi Matsuyama) problems lie closer to his heart. Through his final years at school and time at university he has always been in love with the beautiful Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi, from Babel). But as she becomes more and more unavailable he finds himself spending time in the company of the vivacious Midori (Kiko Mizuhara. Torn between these two very different women, both with problems of their own, Watanabe struggles through the processes of young love, grief and the pain of growing up.

Norwegian Wood

This is a restrained, and (very) slow film. The photography is beautiful, capturing both rural and urban Japan, as well as an attractive young cast with an austere, reserved loveliness. This reservation however, is what lingers in the mind of the viewer. It’s difficult to identify the protagonist for the first half hour; it feels almost like an ensemble film. When we finally do work that Watanabe is our way into the film it is too late to really connect with him. The central actors all put in great performances, particularly Matsuyama and Kikuchi as the couple that never was. Norweigian Wood lacks any sort of punch or vigour, even in the emotional department.  Perhaps those who have read the book will be able to pull some richness from the novel into the film.

Beautifully shot, but not the most engaging of films, particularly over its extensive running time. There is a sense that themes and emotions bubble below the surface of the novel that director Tran Anh Hung just couldn’t quite draw out in the film.

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About The Author

James Burbidge James performs a plethora of tasks for Raindance; writing articles, editing the newsletter, managing Twitter, helping on courses, organising volunteers and running the script services are but a few of the ones he is allowed to tell you about.
When he isn’t daydreaming about daylight he watches films (well, duh!) reads a bit, writes a bit and kicks arse at ultimate Frisbee.




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