With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, February 18, 2008

ACF 076: "LOVE*COM The Movie" Streets Tomorrow

All Photos (C)2006 Lovely*Complex Film Partners. All rights reserved.

Based on the 2004 Shogakukan Manga Award winner by Aya Nakahara, the teen romantic comedy Love*Com The Movie will be available on DVD starting tomorrow, Tuesday, February 19, 2008.

Presented in Japanese with English subtitles, it's the story of two high school students who seem perfect for each other in all ways but one. Risa Koizumi (Ema Fujisawa, in her second feature film) is tall, while Atsushi Otani (heartthrob Teppei Koike) is way on the short side. Though in sync in so many other ways, each thinks that the height differential would make them look ridiculous as a couple. The film follows their like/love/hate relationship over three years.

Risa and Otani karaoke to Umibozu (Sea Monster), the Japanese rapper

The film is obviously geared for a teen audience, but even an old geezer like me - as well as anyone who's been through the confusion and rejection that seem part and parcel of High School - can enjoy it. The young leads, and the supporting cast as well, are talented and full of energy. The color palette is vibrant, like the dots of candy that come on those strips of paper; it's perfect for the film's tone and subject matter. The writing is solid and at times quite witty, as in: "I'm going to push my heart's reset button."

This the first major feature to be directed by Kitaji Ishikawa, and it reveals him to be a talent to expect more great things from in the future. Shizuyo Yamakazi (from Hula Girls) does a terrific comic turn as Risa's sister. Shosuke Tanihara (seen in Memories of Matsuko) appears late in the film as Kuniumi "Mr. Mighty" Maitake, the tall new teacher's assistant who Risa starts to fall for.

Risa and Otani's four friends play matchmakers

The single disc DVD includes several extra treats. After-school Christmas is a special scene shot in full-screen format (the movie itself is widescreen) about gift-giving. Umibozu (Sea Monster) showcases the Japanese rapper that Risa and Otani both like. Hello, Girlfriend is the full scene of Risa's sister appearing on a TV show to extol the dubious virtues of her boyfriend.
Shizuyo Yamakazi (l) as Risa's sister

There's also such standard fare as director and cast bio info, original Japanese trailers (which also have English subtitles), and other offerings from Viz Pictures and Viz Media. (The DVD is distributed by VIZ Pictures, the live action affiliate of VIZ media.)

Love*Com is another example of the fine youth films made by the Japanese. It's adorable, delightful, touching and funny.

Superior teen-geared fare that it is, Love*Com gets an ACF rating of 3.5 out of 4 stars (highly recommended).

The bonus features get a 3 out 0f 4 star rating (good). Some interviews, even brief ones, with the director and the film's two stars would have been nice. Still, I'm definitely not complaining about what's there.

The film's dedicated website is at: lovecomthemovie.com.

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