Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Review: Climbing To Spring

Climbing To Spring is veteran cinematographer Daisaku Kimura's follow up to his directorial debut The Summit: A Chronicle Of Stones. I had the pleasure of reviewing The Summit for the Japanese Film Festival Official Blog in 2011 and loved it. So I was really looking forward to this new film that is lensed, co-written and directed by Kimura, and it does not disappoint. There are many similarities between these two films: both are drama that focus on life's journeys, set in the mountains and boast beautiful cinematography. While not quite as epic in scale as the award-winning The Summit, Climbing To Spring is more focused and accomplished. 

Toru (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) works at a large corporation and is seen as a promising young star with a very bright future. His life takes an unexpected turn when he receives a phone call from his mother, which prompts him to return to the mountains where he spent much of his childhood climbing with his father. There, he meets the beautiful Ai (Yu Aoi) and supportive Goro (Etsushi Toyokawa)…

When the film starts, I was wondering if it was going to be similar in premise to My Little Sweet Pea. As it turns out, while My Little Sweet Pea focuses on the past, Climbing To Spring is all about moving forward. The tone of the film is a positive, uplifting one. It centres on just a handful of characters played by Ken’ichi Matsuyama (Norwegian Wood, Gantz – JFF 2011), Yu Aoi (About Her Brother – JFF 2010, Hula Girl) and Etsushi Toyokawa (Sword Of Desperation – JFF 2010, the 20th Century Boys trilogy). Yu stands out in particular with a new look that fits her role well and a performance that is immensely likeable. The film also impresses with how beautiful it looks. The mountains, the rain, the snow, the trees... are all wonderfully captured on film. This is a film that can really only be fully appreciated on the big screen, and I urge you not to miss it at this year's Japanese Film Festival. 

The Bottom Line: I would love to go on another climbing adventure with Kimura-san.

(Seen at the 18th Japanese Film Festival in Australia)

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