Archive for October 16th, 2012

Hana And Alice (2004)

High school girls Hana and Alice have been best friends for a long time. Whilst waiting for a train to take them to high school one day, they notice Miyamoto who is a year older than them and they both develop a big crush on him. In order to get closer to him, Hana joins the Japanese storytelling club (Rakugo) at school. Miyamoto always has his head in a book and on one afternoon whilst Hana is following Miyamoto home he walks straight into a steel shutter door and knocks himself out! Hana rushes over to help and with Miyamoto still dazed and confused as to what has happened and wondering who is this girl helping him, Hana senses an opportunity and says that she’s his girlfriend! Her explanation as to why he can’t remember is he has got amnesia. Miyamoto finds that a bit odd as he can remember everything except how he and Hana are together but he accepts what she’s saying is true. Whilst helping Hana with a problem on her PC, he stumbles upon a folder full of photos containing himself. He confronts her about them and she calmy explains that it was his former girlfriend Alice that took them. He doesn’t remember anything about her either. Thus Alice is added to the big lie that Hana has concocted. There is only so much lies that the pair of them can tell to Miyamoto before he finds out the truth but just exactly how far can they go with their charade? It doesn’t help that Alice has also fallen for Miyamoto but will she fall out with her best friend for the boy she secretly loves?

Hana and Alice is primarily a teen love triangle movie but the story veers off from time to time to focus on Alice’s side story which I thought was more interesting than the main plot. What makes this movie work so well is the two main characters. The chemistry and rapport between the two girls is such a joy to watch. I enjoyed all the scenes just between the two of them. I was more drawn to Alice’s story than Hana’s as there’s more character development for her. We get to see how family life has shaped her character over the years and why she’s so timid and lacking confidence. Her mother is out a lot and coming back with a new boyfriend, her house is one big mess and she has a somewhat cool relationship with her father whom she sees every now and then. But the girl has a talent for ballet dancing. Hana’s story is also interesting as she was completely different person when she was a child, shunning the outside world until Alice’s friendship got her out of her house which is covered in flowers. Now as a teenager she’s quite a brash person. There are like chalk and cheese yet the friendship they share is touching. Both of the girls are utterly charming and you care for them. Anne Suzuki and Yu Aoi performances as Hana and Alice are outstanding. The character of Miyamoto though is incredibly dull and it makes you wonder just what the two girls see in him! Tomohiro Kaku doesn’t perform that well as Miyamoto as you don’t see any emotion on his face. He’s just got a blank expression for the majority of the story and it felt like he was sleepwalking in the role. It’s probably the only blemish in this fine movie.

The movie is packed with many memorable moments such the first lunch between Alice and Miyamoto, Alice‚Äôs dance in the pouring rain and at the audition, the fight on the beach between Hana and Alice, Alice holding her nostrils when she admits to lying, and the scene between Hana and Miyamoto during their high school performance. The scene with Hana and Miyamoto talking prior to Hana taking to the stage was riveting. The cinematography is simply amazing and the directing by Shunji Iwai who also shot the brilliant Swallowtail Butterfly is brilliant. The story does sag a little bit in the middle part of the movie but thankfully picks up again for the finale. It’s a well paced and compelling coming-of-age tale about friendship and unrequited love which is funny and poignant.

Overall, this movie is just so good. The story itself may not be original but the characters make the movie special. Definitely one to see. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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