"Tomo and Aki" (2005) Japan Rating ★★★★☆ I finally watched the DVD of "Tomo and Aki," the award-winning film based on the famous book by Yukio Kodama. I love this book and have read it many times. Kodama's detailed descriptions of life in Japan's countryside are amazing, and the story is both funny and touching. Tomo and Aki, a young urban couple,move to a rural village but struggle with their strange new life. I avoided the movie for a long time because I thought it could never be as good as the book. While I was right in some ways, the movie was still very enjoyable to watch.
While the small village in the movie is realistic, I never quite felt like I was there as I did when reading Kodama's words. The actor playing Tomo, a shy and ordinary character in the book, looks too confident and handsome for the role. On the other hand, the actress who plays Aki is very believable, perfectly showing emotions such as joy, frustration, and sorrow. Aki really regrets their move. Throughout the first half of the movie, she tries to maintain at least one small part of her city lifestyle by often wearing high heels and perfect makeup around the village. In the powerful conclusion of the movie, she gives birth to twins, which helps her to let go of the past completely and become truly content with her life in the village. One interesting point is the appearance of Jun Daichi, only 15 years old then, playing playing a supporting role as a boy from a neighboring village. I am a big fan of this actor, who became famous for his later work but already shows his talent for acting in this small part.
Although I was extremely familiar with the book, watching the movie increased my appreciation of the original story. Anyone who loves the book can still enjoy this movie, and if you love the movie, go read the book too!
Joe from Buffalo, NY, USA Rating: ★★★★★ My Japanese friend took me to the Asian Film Festival yesterday to see "Tomo and Aki." I usually avoid foreign language movies as I find it difficult to read the subtitles and pay attention to the scenes at the same time. However, this movie was so fascinating and delightful that I soon forgot I was reading the dialogue. The story describes a young woman who moves to the countryside with her husband when he tries to escape his busy life in the city. The best part of the movie is how it shows the interesting and unique life in Japan's countryside. The camera work and soundtrack also add to the experience and in nicely with the lively atmosphere of the film. I was fascinated and entertained throughout the entire two hours.
The opening scene immediately grabbed my attention with a huge frog jumping in front of Aki, the main female character, and her screaming voice echoing into the surrounding mountains. Actually, I was very impressed with the actress's performance as she transforms herself from a fashion store salesclerk into a successful farmer. The actress is also a talented comedian, particularly in the scenes where she is trying to manage a vegetable garden while battling insects, rainstorms, and lots of mud.
Among the many older village people, who are usually staring curiously at the young couple, there are some truly amusing and unique characters. My favorite was an old woman, a legend in the village, who eventually becomes a good friend of the couple. In a memorable scene towards the end of the movie, the old woman teaches Aki how to cook wild mushrooms while telling strange traditional folk stories from the village. Overall, I really liked this movie. The story is entertaining and the acting is great but best of all, you can really see a different side of Japanese culture in the movie. I highly recommend this film!