One Fine Spring Day (2001)
We were supposed to be the first North American audience to be seeing this movie apparently. I haven't seen Christmas In August, so I can't say how this one compares. I got the impression that CHRISTMAS was rather similar to Shunji Iwai's Love Letter though, and seeing ONE FINE makes me suspect this further, as it shares similar strengths of film-making and approach.
The director of One Fine Spring Day was present for the screening, and before the movie started he said that to him the spring was like youth, and that when watching the movie he wanted us to think of some time in our youth that was very special to us. That was what he wanted to capture in the movie. My initial response was a rather disheartening blank - couldn't think of a single moment that counted. As the movie progressed I found my memory jogged though, and multiple moments came to mind.
We've covered my dislike for love stories before, but OFSD is another movie that escapes the pit of bile that I reserve for the genre because it is much more honest, and broader in scope than your standard "romance". It follows the story of a couple who meet, who get to know each other and fall in love one spring... then as the year wears on, their relationship falters and they slowly drift apart.
Usually a love story covers the struggle to find love and then stops... which has never been my experience of relationships. The start of a relationship is... well, just the start. And what lingers in memory is never this but always the end. The beauty of One Fine Spring Day is that it captures both of these moments perfectly... it all feels so true, so genuine... so familiar. There wasn't a thing that either party did or had done to them that I hadn't been through at some point, and I empathised with both of them a lot. It was quite a profoundly moving experience for me.
It's a beautifully crafted movie, gorgeous cinematography and a rare attention to soundscape as well, but the performances are the movie's greatest strength. Nothing short of brilliant, utterly real, very powerful.
It didn't quite move me to tears though, so I guess it doesn't quite match Iwai's LOVE LETTER on that level, but it still a very nicely made movie. A little bit too long though... personally I thought it outstayed its welcome towards the end. Closure had been achieved, but the movie ran for about 10 minutes more. Too me this lessened the overall impact of the movie quite considerably... but that may just have been because it was 10 minutes where I really wanted a cigarette quite badly :)