TIFF ’10: Day 4 ~ Norwegian Wood (Noruwei no mori)

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this much anticipated film was adapted  from the wonderful Haruki Murakami novel. But I just told you anyway! And it was directed by the talented Tran An Hung (Cyclo). The film is lush and beautiful, gorgeously filmed. The acting is superb. There are at least five performances that really stand out (just fell in love with Kinko Mizuhara’s Midori). And as I recall –  it wasn’t that long ago that I read it –  the film is a reverential and faithful adaptation of the book.

But you know what? Some books should not be made into cinema. Apparently Norwegian Wood is one of those novels. When not showing off it’s flawless cinematography, much of the film is shot in profile dialogue scenes. There were two women sitting next to me that  obviously had difficulty controlling their giggling. At first I was pissed, until they finally left, and I settled back into the film. But upon reflection they were not ‘wrong’.

On the page what had come across as a sensitive portrait of young love, awakening sexuality seems to be sexuality that’s stunted and never awakes. What was written as introspection shows on the wide screen – in close up – as solipsism. Intimacy and the big screen are not a good fir. It takes special handling to make it work. Anh Hung Tran’s effort has to be classified as a failure of execution.

Loved the book. The movie left me cold as the snow falling on Naoko’s hair.

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