17 May 2006 | sharptongue
Sentimental recollection of adolescence
The style of this film manages to be at once naturalistic, sentimental, and at times highly dramatic. The minutiae of daily life in a village makes the settings very real indeed. Harvesting and threshing rice, picking "egg-apples" and cotton in the mountains, gossiping over dinner.
The boy and girl, whose childhood innocence but very strong friendship seamlessly turns into more adult love (though thoroughly chaste), are mercilessly taunted by nearly everyone close to them. The impression is of a relationship developing under total and minute scrutiny. This sort of thing can happen anywhere, particularly in a small village, but in a Japanese village, the atmosphere for the young couple is beyond claustrophobic, even when they are in the wide open spaces.
The tone of the story is, and is enhanced by the generally restrained performances, highly emotional, sometimes veering towards melodrama. Though I would be hard pressed to describe this story as a romance, I can well imagine some viewers being moved to tears by the unfairness and injustice of it all.
The story was rather too simple for my liking, though this could be unfair, because I am comparing it to masterworks by the same director, such as Happiness For Us Alone. Nevertheless, the story becomes powerful and effecting towards the end, and is difficult to forget.