Su-ki-da (2005)

We can stare at Miyazaki Aoi all day if you want

Note: The title sounds stupid and insipid in English, because the three words are so commonly used in English, while it’s notoriously little-used in Japanese

Director: Ishikawa Hiroshi
Writers: Ishikawa Hiroshi
Date: 2005

Genre: Love Story
Description: Taking 18 years to say “su-ki-da”, silence, love, what do you do when everything goes wrong, slow yet rewarding

Cast: Nishijima Hidetoshi + Nagasaku Hiromi, Eita + Miyazaki Aoi, cameo by Kase Ryo

Crew of note: Score by Kanno Yoko, Cinematography and editing also by Ishikawa Hiroshi

Color: Color

Yosuke and Yu. Their love story (stories?), 18 years apart. They hang out, fall in love I guess, and go through great pains to say what they really want to say.

Eighteen years is a long, long time. Short compared to “Love in the Time of Cholera” (the book, didn’t watch the movie), sure, but still a pretty long time. The movie is essentially two different stories, because the Yosuke and Yu of the past are noticeably different from their versions of the present. Jadedness, maturity, cynicism, a lack of vitality, growing up, wrinkles… whatever it is, the characters have definitely changed over the course of 18 years–quite naturally I might add–which creates two different, yet essentially the same, love stories.

There really isn’t that much plot to speak of–in general, they just hang out and stuff. Which is pretty much the love story of 80% of the people in love on the planet. There are no villains keeping them apart, no historical event in between them, not even a wall. This really is just the story of Yosuke and Yu, their awkward moments of silence, their awkward moments of conversation. Just like 80% of the people on the planet who aren’t pick-up artists or Romance novelists. Or assholes.

It should be enough to say that the movie is technically superb, with great use of color, close ups, and well-timed camera movements and still shots. Ishikawa directed, edited, and shot the movie himself after all, so it is understandable that there is a noticeably unified effect.

The only thing that makes the film a little difficult, is the fact that the characters’ awkwardness and tonguetiedness can be very frustrating. Not everyone can be eloquent romancers, but sometimes, the extended silences seem a little too much, even though these moments are indeed beautiful. Words are hard, I guess. Sometimes the right words aren’t even the right words. Maybe, the words don’t even need to be said, and the movie is able to build their relationship enough that we think they already know, even though it’s equally obvious that they don’t. This is kinda a lesson on how to say I love you in silence. In that respect, the film is a success.

Suffers from being a little too artsy and indirect, but I guess being indirect is the whole point of the movie right? The pictures and the music are sometimes a little too nice, a little too perfect, and I don’t know how that’s a bad thing, but the story is a little too… “oblique” for its own good.. which I guess successfully builds up that sense of frustration (aka shouting “JUST SAY IT DAMNIT” at the screen) for the characters. I don’t like it when movies frustrate me (I don’t find it an enjoyable feeling), but it’s hard to fault a movie that is otherwise touching, beautiful, and decidedly soft spoken.

things to take note of
The colors gray and green
Nonsequitur shots?
The tension

best moment
When there is only music
Eita’s song, which can get stuck in your head pretty easily and for a long long long long time
By the riverside

why you should watch this
Not the perfect love story, but technically impressive
Nishijima Hidetoshi is one of my favorite actors
Funny how I keep reviewing Miyazaki Aoi movies (note: I love Ueno Juri more)

rating: 7.9, though I want to give it more

Plot: C+
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: B
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Love Letter, directed by Iwai Shunji
Niji no megami / Rainbow Song, directed by Sugimori Hidenori, starring Ueno Juri