Netemo Sameteo (Asako I & II) / Asako I & II
Ryūsuke Hamaguchi – Japan
IN A NUTSHELL
This Japanese romantic drama based on the 2010 novel by Tomoka Shibasaki, follows Asako (Erika Karata) a 21-year-old woman who lives in Osaka. She falls in love with Baku (Masahiro Higashide), who is 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. They begin a relationship without Asako telling him of the uncanny resemblance to Baku, but will it last? (by Bianca Garner)
“The film is more of a droll, low-key comedy of manners than a love story. For Asako (Erika Karata) and Baku (Masahiro Higashide), it’s love at first sight, with the exchange of a euphoric first kiss, and a wittily posed embrace on the pavement following a motor scooter accident.” – – – – – Barbara Scharres, RogerEbert.com
“We all carry around with us a high school or college memory of heartbreak, and thus preserve around that culprit – always accessible in these social media times – a false romantic cachet. This is an amusing essay in amorous delusion.” – – – – – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“Effortlessly charming, such moments cast a spell by gently defying expectations without straining belief. It’s too bad that these kinds of touches, which render Asako’s blind passion fully convincing, are largely lacking from the rest of the film.” – – – – – Giovanni Marchini Camia, The Film Stage
An intimate story, both in its plot and production, the double life of Asako is explored through a romance genre that might stand our like a sore thumb amidst the heavier hitters. Not a terrible film, no, but as charming as this may be, the film is overall a little on the slight side perhaps given the more heavier, relevant issues competently done elsewhere.