Directed by Kentaro Otani
Starring Aoi Miyazaki (left, above) and Mika Nakashima (right)
Screenplay by Kentaro Otani and Taeko Asano
Based on the manga by Ai Yazawa
Japan, 2005, 114 minutes
Once upon a manga, and now upon a movie, there were two girls named Nana. One, Nana "Hachi" Komatsu (Aoi Miyazaki), has a wide smile, dresses conventionally and goes to Tokyo to reunite with her boyfriend. The other, Nana Osaki (Mika Nakashima), is an aspiring punk rocker who goes to Tokyo to seek fame and fortune after her boyfriend has left her.
They meet on the train to the big city and again when they both arrive to look at the same apartment, which they decide to share. But it's more than living quarters they share, as each stands by and supports the other in matters of life and love.
The film is narrated at times by Nana Komatsu, and it's primarily the story of the punk singer Nana, whose name is spelled "NANA" in the subtitles. Details of her breakup with her boyfriend (the two were in the same band), are revealed in a number of flashbacks.
There are some lovely shots in this tale of a sweet but oddball friendship. And though it's clearly a youth-oriented movie, it's themes of ambition, loyalty, and caring have a universal appeal that go beyond any particular age group.
The cast is attractive and endearing, and the script avoids treacle. I did feel that the ending was somewhat pat and sudden, probably because of the need to compress a multi-volume manga (available from VIZ Media) into a conventional length feature film.
NANA is another example of the many fine youth movies that Japan produces. But you don't have to be young to enjoy it, only young at heart. NANA gets a solid ACF recommendation of 3 out of 4 stars.
NANA, presented by VIZ pictures, played in Los Angeles for seven days at the end of March. It screens starting today, Friday, April 4th, 2008, through the 10th at the ImaginAsian Theatre on East 59th Street in Manhattan. For further info and showtimes. click here.
For those who couldn't or can't make it to a theatrical screening, I'm pretty sure a DVD will be available from VIZ in the not too distant future. That's been the case with their other releases. I'll have further news if and when it's available.