Friday Flicks is a one of our Periodicals, in which we decided to start up because of our love for Asian cinema.
What we do with Friday Flicks will be similar to what other websites do with film reviews, except we won’t give a grade or score. Rather, we will tell you what we like and what we don’t like about the film. Our main goal is to spread the awesomeness of Asian cinema, creating new fans and introducing new films to existing ones.
We plan on talking about films from all across Asia (including Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, The Philippines, etc), both old and new. We basically want to make Asian film fans out of you.
One last note: These reviews will have minor spoilers. We intend to not reveal any major plot twists or story lines. Yet, a movie review is nearly impossible to do without talking about about the story even at little.
That being said, let’s get the show on the road!
This week’s Friday Flick: Heavenly Forest
Original Title: ただ、君を愛してる
(Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru) /
(It’s Just That I Love You)
Main Cast:Miyazaki Aoi
- Based on the novel Ren’ai Shashin: Mou Hitotsu no Monogatari (Photo of True Love: Another Story) by Ichikawa Takuji.
- The original title was based off of lyrics to ballad “Ren’ai Shashin” by Otsuka Ai, which was also used as the film’s theme song.
- Otsuka Ai won the “Best Video From A Film” and “Best Pop Video” awards at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan 2007.
- One of Miyazaki Aoi’s hobbies is photography, which happens to be a central theme to this film. Currently she is the face of camera company Olympus.
A story to be told
On his first day of university, Makoto meets Shiruzu, a girl who seems very childlike in both appearance and actions. Shizuru’s intrusive and carefree personality gets the better of Makoto’s shyness, and they become friends. Makoto introduces Shizuru to his love of photography, and their friendship becomes stronger with their continuous photographic adventures in a nearby forest; their own special place.
Makoto befriends and becomes attracted to another student, Miyuki, whose beauty and behavior are the polar opposites of Shizuru’s. Seeing how close the two are and how much they are with each other, Shizuru becomes quite jealous, having fallen in love with Makoto herself. She playfully tells Makoto that he will be missing out on her eventual blossoming into a full-fledged beauty.
Shizuru decides on entering a photography contest. For her entry, she decides to submit a photo with the theme of “Lovers”. So, she makes a request to Makoto: to take a photograph of them kissing in their special forest, of which she will use in the contest.. He agrees to it, and they take the photo.
Almost immediately after the photo is taken, Shizuru mysteriously disappears, leaving behind no contact information. It’s with her disappearance that Makoto realizes his true feelings for Shizuru. Where could Shizuru have gone to, and will Makoto ever see her again?
Points to be made
Fans who have seen the films Be With You (2004) and Say Hello For Me (2007) will feel a familiar air when seeing the story of Heavenly Forest unfold, as all three films are based off of books written by the same author (Ichikawa Takuji). All stories involve a weak and troubled male character encountering a female character who helps the him climb out of the rut they are stuck in. The females are the girl-next-door type, which fits perfectly in the slice-of-life atmosphere set by the stories.
Tamaki Hiroshi and Miyazaki Aoi are astounding in their portrayals as Makoto and Shizuru. It certainly doesn’t hurt that both young actors are well versed in their trade, and both have gone on to find more success in their careers.
The relationship between the two leads is just too cute to watch. Fans of Miyazaki Aoi will agree that she is right at home playing the little ball of energy that is Shizuru. Stealing the spotlight with her natural charm, it is easily to fall in love with Shizuru and cry every time she does.
Fans of Tamaki Hiroshi might find it hard to buy the shy boy act that he plays in Heavenly Forest, especially after remembering his roles in Waterboys and Nodame Cantabile. However, Tamaki shows he can definitely be a flexible actor, to the point where audiences either end up wanting to hit something because of how hesitant his character is, or sympathize because they have been there before.
However, Tamaki’s character Makoto can’t be all to blame; any guy would have it tough choosing between smoking hot Kuroki Meisa and cute Miyazaki Aoi. Kuroki’s Miyuki was the rival, indeed, however she was far from being the antagonist of the story. That was in a way a big relief, as there are so many films that tell the story of a love triangle where one person was an obvious villain. Miyuki was a likable rival, and her only crime was looking being as beautiful as she does.
However, a love triangle was never a priority in the story telling in the film. Rather, it is the simple story of the yearning of love and the things we take for granted. Photography is a also a central theme to the story, as it is the hobby shared by both Makoto and Shizuru and the means of which their friendship was able to strengthen. Just like the beauty photography can exhibit, the scenes are carefully crafted with many moments that seem to be photographs come to life. One scene in particular is when Makoto takes a minute to pause and gaze at Shizuru’s face after she takes off her glasses. Sure, the audience will also find themselves having to pause at the sight of her cute why-are-you-staring-at-me face.
Heavenly Forest will take you through many emotions, from being in love to being sad. Get ready a box of tissues before you embark into your journey of watching this great film.
Watch this film if…
…you’re a Miyazaki Aoi fan. If you aren’t, you definitely will be by the film’s end.