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  • A traffic accident killed Heisuke (Kaoru Kobayashi)'s wife Naoko (Kayoko Kishimoto), while his highschool-student daughter Monami (Ryoko Hirosue) survived. Actually the survived was his wife's soul in his daughter's body... The story tells their twisted love and life.

    The picture is very beautiful, delicate, and touching. It keeps me crying during the viewing. It was great for a guy-who-read-the-novel-already that the movie duplicates most of storylines, scenes and quotes from the novel it is based on. The scenes are just as I imagined. Ryoko Hirosue did it great as the daughter/wife-in-daughter double cast.

    I recommend you to see it twice at least. On second viewing (after knowing the final twist) you can feel what Naoko felt in the film, and it will make you cry much more than the first viewing.

    I voted 10/10.
  • "Himitsu" stars the Waseda-educated Hirosue Ryoko ("Oyajii", "Long Vacation", "Wasabi") in a poignant paranormal family dorama wherein salaryman Sugita Heisuke (Kobayashi Kaoru) loses his wife Naoko in a ski bus accident that also injures his daughter. Strangely, however, his daughter Monami(Hirosue) has assumed the personality of his late wife - or rather the latter has assumed the physical embodiment of the former. At any rate, the main premise of the movie involves the sticky little "situations" that present themselves when your wife suddenly becomes your daughter (relatively speaking). For example, the one-time housewife must now come up to speed in her daughter's high school classes, including a sudden immersion into her daughter's social circles and a mild annoyance at seeing her math teacher (cameo by the lovely Ishida Yuriko) flirting with her dad/husband. Of course (much to the torment of the Ryo-chan fanboyz, no doubt), there is the issue of sleeping arrangements (!) at home. Just how far can a guy go now that this person who is essentially his wife has a twenty-something year facelift and is the frustrated dream date of more than half the Japanese male population? Okay, I've exaggerated, but the director seems to delight in making the audience wonder what the outcome will be. One of the most memorable scenes takes place when Heisuke intercepts his wife/daughter's phone calls from an interested sempai in the school sailing club who asks her out. Torn between protecting his daughter and defending his marriage, he confronts the young man in public, declaring that he cannot date his daughter because they are from outer space (see, X-Files?). An interesting yet convenient facet of the movie is the close relationship between mother and daughter that is implied early in the movie and reinforced later. Very little is presented about Monami per se, but it is indirectly through Naoko's eyes that we see what kind of a person she is, and how the close relationship with her mother makes it that much easier for Naoko to act the part of Monami when needed. Overall, the scene composition and musical score work very well together and what the movie lacks in special effects it more than makes up for in weepy sentimentality and the cathartic ending. The "TBS"-esque feel so prevalent in the countless TBS trendy dramas is quite apparent, and this might not sit well with some viewers, but I didn't mind it. Hirosue Ryoko gives a rather satisfying performance in her dual roles as both carefree yet dutiful mother and semi-slacker daughter. My only complaint is that the movie left me feeling cheated out of a final scene with Ishida Yuriko, but I guess that wouldn't serve to advance the plot significantly.
  • This film is probably one of the most seductive films you will ever see providing that you are a person who actually prefers to be emotionally taxed at the cinema rather than simply wooed with special effects and large explosions.

    The story is about a husband whose wife and daughter are both involved in a coach accident on the way back from a skiing trip. However, in the hospital as the mother and daughter lay side by side in the emergency ward, a last dying wish by the mother to hold her daughter's hand is to throw the husband's life into turmoil; the personality of the mother being transferred to their daughter's body moments before she dies due to some mysterious power in the wedding ring she is wearing.

    From that moment, the story is sensitive and delicate, it's meandering pace worked so masterfully that you barely notice the 2 hours or so rapidly slipping by delivering situation after anxious situation, such as the husband's turmoil of wanting to satisfy his wife's emotional and sexual needs but being unable to violate the boundaries presented in his daughter's physical appearance. Along the way, as the daughter's personality appears to be coming back, the wife's personality ebbs away and many poignant moments are created as the husband has to deal with the possibility that his wife is finally going to leave him.

    Since "Ghost" first came out all those years ago, there have been countless re-workings in different languages of what was, undoubtedly, one of the most original stories of it's time - a story of a loved one coming back and living in a mysterious temporal space between life and death, giving the widowed spouse one final opportunity of companionship. Only last year a Korean version was released with the title "I Introduce to You My Girlfriend" (title translated from Japanese release).

    However, the art of film-making is always in the execution, and that is why Japanse film making is never to be underestimated when it comes to getting to the crux of what makes human emotions tick. Unlike the dreary and shallow Hollywood efforts, this is a masterpiece and the ending is a true shocker; gently delivered and seriously potent. It left me frustrated with my mind in pieces, not because the film was sub-standard in any way, but because I felt so much for the situations of the characters involved. Great films have the power to emotionally absorb their audience and this is definitely one of those films.

    I have not seen the English translation of this film as I watch all of my Japanese movies in Japanese with no subtitles. This allows me to see and appreciate the film with all the inflections and nuances that the writers and film makers intended. I hope that the subtitling on this film does it justice, otherwise it could very easily ruin what is a masterful piece of film making.
  • The movie has a surprising ending. The daughter and her daddy played their role very well. I was touched by the emotions that run through the movie. The daddy sacrificed his right over his 'daughter'. The daughter make a conscious choice for a new life, leaving her 'past' behind her. If I am in that position, what would I choose?. To be faithful to my spouse or ask to be let go?. I love the music scores at the end which is another highlight of the movie. This is a movie that I recommend to movie lovers especially if you are tired of all the Hollywood CGI stuff. I liked it so much that I recorded it and had to share it with my friends.
  • Through my own error I wound up with an unsubtitled DVD of "Himitsu" (Secret). Watching it anyway proved an interesting, but not unheard of, experience. Many in this country have passed idle minutes trying to decipher Spanish language telenovelas. So many, actually, that when "The Simpsons" spoofs the bee-suit guy enough of us get it. And anyone who's seen a dozen or two Japanese films, recognizes affirmatives, negatives, what you say coming home or taking leave, what "gomen" indicates, at least some of the variety of tones and intents with which any rote phrase can be uttered, and so on. I'm cheating a little, because I took classes way, way back, and a few years ago in a futile attempt to recover some of it got to a ninety per cent level recognizing 2000 characters in a flash card game on my first computer. Most of that's lost, yet removing the subtitle crutch heightens one's perception of tone and pace. Though I could seldom be said to understand, what I heard watching "Himitsu" was far from gibberish. I probably fell back, too, on subconscious tricks learned watching hundreds of silent films.

    All that said, the film is relatively slight. The disaster-bus intro put me in mind of "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Eureka." Snow-country soul switching suggests Iwai's "Love Letter." Another, less precise, ref could be the maudlin daughter-mother coda to "Dark Water." What ensues though is a sunlit situation comedy you could write yourself. Each danger point, dating, jealousy, incest, etc., is met and deftly skirted. At times Ryoko Hirosue (the intelligent airhead in "Wasabi") lacks the depth to play the older woman, making one appreciate all the more, the brief glimpses of that older woman.

    Now that I've read a synopsis, the only point I missed totally, due to the language barrier, was the father telling the young suitor that they were space aliens. The young man looked so startled I thought the father had owned up to feelings for the daughter, hiding the truth by admitting it. I knew that was off the film's tone so probably wrong, but space aliens certainly never entered my mind.