Review: Dakishimetai – Shinjitsu no Monogatari (2014)
Slice of life themes have an emotional intensity of their own. Yet, it’s not easy for a movie to be successful in this specific field. In order to depict in the most appropriate manner the main core of the theme a lot of effort must be put in and the factors are quite many. The visuals don’t have to be grandiose and eccentric in their very own way, unless the scene asks for it. Captivating the interest and the emotional intelligence of the audience is the key to success in slice of life themed movies. The most appropriate way to achieve this is through simplistic yet sincere and realistic moments. Of course the main actors and the cast surrounding them consist of a highly important factor. They have to work in perfect harmony with the rest of the crew behind the cameras whose guidelines shouldn’t fail bringing to the surface the very essence of the script. Dakishimetai – Shinjitsu no Monogatari (or I Just Wanna Hug You) is one of these movies that have a scent of their own and it’s based on a real story.
Keiko Kitagawa as Tsukasa Yamamoto and Ryo Nishikido as Masaki Koyanagi are the main figures of Dakishimetai. Their chemistry was essential and it’s truly immense as it’s being depicted through the whole duration of the movie which is about two hours long. During the first scenes we get to know that Tsukasa’s no longer alive, so the audience becomes emotionally prepared of this romance’s tragic ending. That’s the key part, from that moment and on the movie goes back to the moment when Tsukasa and Masaki first met. It’s not only only about the dramatic tone that is apparent. It’s also about emphasis on the happy moments our main figures cherish, even though the overall situation might be between a rock and a hard place. Spoilers lie ahead, so proceed at your own risk!
Tsukasa back in her high school days was involved in a car accident and she was hospitalized for a long time. Ever since she’s moving using a wheelchair. Another effect of the accident was memory impairment, it’s tough for her to recall events and/or people from the past. One day due to a booking mistake of basketball court she meets Masaki, a taxi driver who likes playing basketball. Tsukasa and her friends, who also have moving disabilities, enjoy playing boccia. After the practice Masaki offers himself to transfer Tsukasa wherever she’s willing to go and they steadily forge a slight but distinctive relationship as time passes by. Soon we’ll witness Masaki wondering whether his feelings for Tsukasa are real love or something else. The more time he spends with her, the closer they get and their dialogues hold a simplistic beauty of their own. He decides to break-up with his current girlfriend and what a scene, she breaks an empty bottle on his head! After discussions with his fellow taxi driver buddy and a common friend he finally realizes his real feelings for Tsukasa and wants to be with her no matter how many obstacles may lie ahead.
It’s adorable how many times he carries her on his back or in his arms, all that matters is for them to be together for all these small moments that are grandiose to their eyes. The scene at the amusement park’s carousel is dreamy, time and obstacles feel meaningless, all that matters is all they share and that they are together. There are scenes that Masaki seems a bit rash concerning his decisions, but the way i see it is to show the strength of his character and how determined he is to proceed at all costs with Tsukasa. He’s not afraid to meet Tsukasa to his friends and his parents and even bear Tsukasa’s mother’s doubts and judgmental, but justified, behavior. Steadily and step by step everyone accepts their relationship and they start sharing friendly and family moments, especially after hearing the news that Tsukasa’s pregnant to Masaki’s child. Even his father that couldn’t easily accept their relationship left behind his negative thoughts and Tsukasa’s mother’s reactions softened.
Yesterday’s night, after so long I felt like dreaming and floating in the sky
Under my feet lies a sea of white ice
Then, there is a really big polar bear chasing me.
After their marriage, Tsukasa gives birth to their child, Nagomi. Slightly after giving birth her situation drastically worsened due to acute liver failure during pregnancy and a few days later she passed away. The moment we see Masaki weeping on his knees outside the hospital in the wintry landscape is pretty intense. But he has to remain strong for their child. And even if part of his thoughts are whether Tsukasa would still be alive if they hadn’t met or not, they’re floating away when he thinks of Nagomi. At the end Nagomi had a fight with another child at the kindergarten and Masaki takes him to apologize. That’s the moment he meets Sonomura (Takumi Saito) who’s the father of the other child and he’s in a like-minded situation since his wife has passed away as well. Masaki invites him and his son at a friend gathering, something that leaves you with the impression that a strong friendship is at its very beginning and since both of them are single fathers they’ll find their way through the obstacles that lie ahead of them.
Dakishimetai is a beautiful movie with fragrant moments. We get to see about Tsukasa’s struggles through videos from her hospitalization and how hard it was for her to regain her strength and start living again. Yet, Dakishimetai focuses on the bright moments of a difficult situation and never fails to depict vividly all these positive vibes, even when the horizon darkens. And even if it holds a bitter taste, its positive aura is more powerful. Due to its heart-warming messages of unerring love, it feels soothing and sparkling in the end.