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Monday, October 28, 2019

Asako I & II 『寝ても覚めても』 - Movie Review


The Movie: Asako I & II 『寝ても覚めても

The Director: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi

The Cast: Masahiro Higashide, Erika Karata, Sairi Itô, Kôji Nakamoto, Kôji Seto, Misako Tanaka, Daichi Watanabe, Rio Yamashita

The Story: Asako lives in Osaka. She falls in love with Baku, a free-spirit. One day, Baku suddenly disappears. Two years later, Asako now lives in Tokyo and meets Ryohei. He looks just like Baku, but has a completely different personality.


The Review:
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi made a five and half hour movie about friendship called Happy Hour that was so good, I actually wish it had been longer. His latest feature is a mere two hours long with a focus on relationships and more specifically the struggle a young woman has with her feelings for two men who look exactly alike. The director, who also co-wrote the story, fills the narrative with moments of brilliantly painted emotion and then follows a rather unexpected path towards the finish line.

The strength of the movie comes from the performances of the entire cast beginning with Erika Karata as Asako and continuing with her co-star Masahiro Higashide who plays both Bako and Ryôhei, Asako's look alike love interests. Their chemistry on screen is so natural and authentic, especially between Asako and Ryôhei with two of the movie's most emotionally impactful moments coming from their interactions. Another standout is Rio Yamashita who plays an actress that becomes Asako's best friend during her time in Tokyo. She lights up the screen with her smile and has a presence in front of the camera that is a joy to watch.

Erika Karata plays Asako as a very quiet and extremely loving 21 year old who falls head over heels for Bako, a rebellious young man who disappears out of her life as quickly as he jumps in. Asako's quiet demeanor is irresistibly adorable which makes her bad decision making even more frustrating to accept. Yes, this is one of those movies where the main character is ultimately flawed and doomed to live with the consequences of her actions so don't expect a classic Hollywood love story where everything gets wrapped up nicely at the end. There is a lot to learn from Asako's journey and the highs and lows are just part of a beautifully crafted story that is well worth the effort.


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