Personal Rating: 7.5/10
The cat sat on my lap through: 85% of it.
I'm not sure if this movie has an English title--I couldn't find very much info about it online, but the translation is, "A Month Like Summer Vacation." It's about this boy, Junya (wearing the red helmet) who's suffering because his famous cyclist father died in an accident a year ago, meets up by chance with Shintaro. First, he meets Shintaro while he's on his message carrier job, and Shintaro looks like he's about to jump off a building, and Junya rushes to the top of the building to stop him. But the first time they officially meet, Junya plows into him on his bicycle and minorly cracks a bone, so he's got a month off work for him to get closer to Shintaro, who feels really guilty about the whole affair.
I found the whole movie on Youtube and watched through it, as I've been getting a bit lax on my Japanese language upkeep. Then I started to think I might as well keep a journal of the movies I watched and what I thought. So I was hunting down some Japanese BL drama (I was actually looking for a movie called "Boy's Love," and this one had Boy's Love in the Youtube video title, so I was tricked into clicking it! Haha. But then I thought, what the heck)--and... On that front, this one doesn't really deliver. As a matter of fact, because it felt like it sort of wanted to go there, but pulled back out of fear, I thought the story in general suffered a little bit.
- Good acting. It felt so natural, as if I was just following someone around in their day to day life. Yamazaki Ikusaburou, who played Shintaro, did a really good job of subtly playing the exhaustion and depression, I thought. And Araki Hirofumi showed an awesome development of character.
- The filming, although 75% of it felt like it was on a bicycle, was actually really cleverly shot. The misty morning on the beach, the dark room with the harsh orange light, the soft warm light of the bar, the dark apartment with the closed curtains... Really great for mood-setting. And, even if the bicycle theme did get a little tiny bit old, it was a very solid and symbolic theme to run all the way through.
- The soundtrack was really fitting! A lot of the songs were chosen to fit the quick movement of the bicycle and I thought they did a really good job with that, and with finding more emotional tunes to fit the emotional parts.
- I liked the complexity of so many different characters making such personal progress over the course of the movie. Nobody lacked character development! Junya became stronger by the end, Shintaro found some happiness by the end, Mom found some strength by the end, Mana picked up her broken pieces by the end... I liked to see that.
- A lot of questions are left unanswered by the end:
- Was Shintaro trying to commit suicide in the beginning? And why? (I mean, there's an obvious assumption to make, but I thought that particular point deserved a dedicated discussion.)
- Was Shintaro in love with Junya, and did Junya reciprocate those feelings? Once again, there's an assumption to be made, especially given the... Junya cycles all night to join him at the hospital... After having a discussion about homosexual love with the bartender and describing how he doesn't know why he hurts so much inside... And Shintaro "almost-kissing" him (maybe?) and then apologizing and rushing away, and the dramatic non-communication they had thereafter. But it refused to officially go farther than bromance with their actions, even framing them as each other's guardian angels or stand-in-family types, which kind of muddied the water a lot. There was too much "romance" for them to be "just friends," and too much "friends" to connect the dots completely to "romance." And I felt that was a bit of a failing. The emotional impact would have been more if I had known how to think of their relationship. It was a really strong story about self-discovery through friendship, and that would have packed a more powerful punch if there hadn't been the ambiguity about the romantic feelings possibly between them.
- Also, the bottom line seemed to be that Junya helped Shintaro find some joy in the final days of his life, and Shintaro helped Junya rediscover his own drive and ambition, but there was also the thing where Mana(?) confessed her love to Junya and he rejected her, and at the time it felt like it was another "subtle hint" about the love between Junya and Shintaro, but a LOT was made of Mana withdrawing from the work place and then Junya and her smiling at each other in the end, which made it feel like another message was, "Shintaro opened the door for Junya to be able to pursue relationships. Maybe even with Mana"? That story line was a bit hard to wrap my mind around.
- Why was Junya holding Shintaro's design in the end? What good was the design--I thought he was getting a bike! Will he get the real design in a bike? I thought completing the bike before the end was the goal! Not completing the design...
- Somebody has to explain the margaritas that look like water to me. Did you forget the margarita mix, mister?!
- My best friend used to call me Pako-rin, what a coincidence is that! XD The bartender's explanation of how he got the nickname was pretty intense. And I have eccentric curly hair in certain weather, myself. Funny... :)