Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Norwegian Wood - Movie Review

This is a movie based on Haruki Murakami's novel of the same name (and one that I have gifted to Parth but I have not read yet myself). My experience with Murakami so far is that it is difficult to capture his imagination in ours; so only a brave director must have attempted this. Murakami goes into spaces we can never imagine and it was definitely interesting to see a movie based on his novel. Another interesting thing is Murakami's love for western music, of the 60s to the 80s, which comes across in his novels and here he is, with a novel based on the famous song by the Beatles 'Norwegian Wood' which incidentally has sitar as a major instrument in it.

The movie is about Vatanabe, whose good friend Kidzuki, has a girl friend Naoko. Now Kidzuki and Naoko have grown up since they were three, and Vatanabe knows Kidzuki for a long time too. They grow up to be teens when Kidzuki for some reason commits suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Vatanabe goes off to Tokyo to study and work, more as an escape. One day he meets Naoko and they end up celebrating her 20th birthday by sleeping together. Vatanabe discovers she is a virgin and is surprised that she and Kidzuki never had sex. Naoko then disappears. Vatanabe meets her in her sanitorium, a place for the disturbed, and meets her cigarette smoking friend Reiko, the one who plays 'Norwegian Wood' and sings it in English. In Tokyo he meets Midori, a girl who seems to like him. He also has a friend Nagasawa who has many girlfriends and who has no real commitments to anyone except himself - someone Vatanabe cannot understand. Naoko goes deeper into her depression and commits suicide. Midori leaves Vatanabe because she feels Naoko's shadow in Vatanabe. And to top it all, Reiko comes to meet Vatanabe and ends up sleeping with him. In a parting line Nagasawa tells Vatanabe never to waste time feeling sorry for himself - a fine piece of advise I thouhgt. Midori makes up with Vatanabe in the end.

The cinematography of the film was stunning. Each frame was like some masterpiece, a visual treat for me. The cast did a fine job. The movie itself had a haunting quality to it, which is wonderful since Murakami's novels bring that same feeling. To capture the angst of twenty-somethings caught in questions such as love, sex, relationships, friendships in an honest manner was something that I found interesting. Most times youngsters are shown as idiots in movies or rather one-dimensional characters, and it is wonderful to see a real side to people who dare to explore themselves deeper. This movie belongs to the 60s or the 70s, I felt. But I would love to see a Hindi or regional movie that explores these questions deeper, that confusion that youth have honestly. For once please show some intelligence in the youth as well. As for 'Norwegian Wood' watch it. It borders on the depressive but it is like no movie you'd have seen before.

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