Watching a trio of self-obsessed Japanese youngsters agonise about their love lives for 2 ¼ hours won’t be everyone’s cup of sake, but if you can adjust to its slow pace then director Tran Anh Hung’s faithful adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s bestselling 1987 novel Norwegian Wood is surprisingly involving and moving.
Set in late-1960s Tokyo, the story revolves around undergraduate Watanabe (Matsuyama Kenichi) and his struggles to resolve his feelings for two very different young women – the troubled Naoko ((Rinko Kikuchi, best-known for her Oscar-nominated role in Babel) and the free-spirited Midori (Kiko Mizuhara).
A good deal of soul-searching is in store, but fortunately the young cast deliver sympathetic performances, the cinematography is ravishing and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood provides a haunting score.
Incidentally, the film’s title comes from John Lennon’s enigmatic Beatles number. A cryptic account of a one-night stand, the song features mid-way through the film, strummed on a guitar by one of the characters.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray by Soda Pictures on 4th July.