Saturday, 1 November 2014

Review: Leaving On The 15th Spring


For most of us, moving from primary to high school is an important milestone; but for the Japanese people living on the remote Minamidaito Island situated 360km east of the main island of Okinawa, where there are no high schools, having secondary education takes on a special meaning because the young people have to leave the island in the spring of their 15th year. 
As the current school leader leaves Minamidaito, Yuna (Ayaka Miyoshi) becomes the new leader and will have the honour of singing a special song to bid farewell to her family in front of a large crowd in one year’s time. The interesting thing is that most of Yuna’s family are already living in Okinawa, with only her father still staying on the island. As the planning for her to start high school in the following year begins, the innocent and na├»ve Yuna soon finds herself having to face some hard truths about her family…

Directed by Yasuhiro Yoshida, this family drama is touching and well-observed. The things that have happened to this family are seen in many families in real life. Miyoshi, an incredibly pretty actress, gives a natural and likeable performance; while the supporting cast who play her family all give solid performances. There are some wonderful and particularly enjoyable scenes that feature traditional Japanese culture, such as playing of the Japanese drums, celebration of the New Year and the aforementioned farewell performance of traditional song and dance. 
The Bottom Line: Leaving On The 15th Spring will leave you thinking about your father, mother, brother(s) and sister(s). 
(Seen at the 18th Japanese Film Festival in Australia)



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