Last night I was fortunate to attend a pre-release screening of Norwegian Wood at Japan Society. The film is directed by French-Vietnamese film-maker TRAN Anh Hung (Cyclo and The Scent of Green Papaya). He also wrote the screenplay, which is based on one of the best known novels by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The movie will open on Friday, January 6, 2012 at the IFC Center in New York and the West End Cinema in Washington DC. It will subsequently roll-out westward across the U.S. over the ensuing weeks: Chicago on January 20th, Seattle & Los Angeles on the 27th.
I'm not going to offer a full review at this time, although I certainly plan to before the film opens here. Partially this is because I don't currently have the time to give this compelling work the consideration it deserves, but more so because I find that I'm still thinking about it, rolling it around in my head and thinking it over. For me this is the sure sign of a great film: one that provokes further thought.
Norwegian Wood is primarily the story of a youth named Watanabe, played by Kenichi Matsuyama ("L" in the three Death Note films, Soichi Negishi/Johannes Krauser II in Detroit Metal City). Soon to enter college in 1967, when the film begins, he is forced to confront the consequences of the tragic fate that befalls his best friend Kazuki (Kengo Kora). Primary among these is a complicated and changing relationship with Naoko (the never-better Rinko Kikuchi), Kazuki's former girlfriend.
|Samuel Jamier, of Japan Society, director Tran, and Ms. Kikuchi at the Q&A|
Director Tran and Ms. Kikuchi were present at the screening, introducing the film and then fielding questions in the Q&A that followed. I'll surely have a post about their responses and comments in the near future.
In the meanwhile, to prepare yourself for experiencing this superb film in the New Year, please make due with the film's trailer: