Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
- Released By: Other
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 139
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Crying Out Love, In The Centre Of The World
Crying Out Love, In The Centre Of The World
By Chris Beveridge
September 25, 2005
Release Date: April 05, 2005
Crying Out Love, In The Centre Of The World
What They Say
Sekai no Chushin de, Ai wo Sakebu, a Japanese romance novel by Katayama Kyoichi, sold over 3 million copies in Japan alone, is now adapted into one of the biggest hits of the summer box office in Japan! The film Crying Out Love, In The Centre Of The World, directed by Yukisada Isao from Go, starring Osawa Takao (Gege)and Shibasaki Kou (One Missed Call), who brings great performances into one of the most loved and romantic films!
Shikoku is the place where Sakutaro met his first love, Aki (Nagasawa Masami). Sakutaro and Aki are deeply with one another, but Aki suffered from a fatal disease and passed away. While Sakutaro is seraching for Ritsuko, he was looking through objects from his past, and he discovers a message from Aki...The Review!
Better known in North America under the title "Socrates in Love", this film adaptation of the novel that stormed Japanese readers is predictable and obvious but manages an incredible impact nonetheless.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this film in its original language of Japanese and in the DTS-ES mix that was included. The film does a good job of incorporating the various effects, music and dialogue into a well enveloping mix through the entire piece that at times is eerie but often simple lulls you into it. There are a few surprise moments where dialogue comes out of a rear speaker when you least expect it, but more often than not it's soft sounds or ambient music that's carried through there. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally released to theaters in 2004, the transfer for this movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The materials for the film simply look fantastic here with a beautiful crisp clean print that showcase the locales and the weather that plays such a key role at times. Everything is kept as it is in the original release in terms of credits with only a series of front loaded locked warning screens for the localization being the only difference. The film's transfer is essentially free of problems as it has a very solid film feel to it with the right amount of grain, solid colors and hardly anything noticeable in terms of artifacts.Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release, it provides a look at the three main characters of the story and the split in the central character from both points in time since they were played by different actors. The bottom portion gives clue to the center of the world itself with a lush green sky set against the desert backdrop. The back cover has a great shot from the film of Sakutaro on one of the brakers and a number of other small shots are included. The summary is provided in both Cantonese and English and the technical grid covers everything with plenty of logos. The release mirrors the Japanese release fairly well though since its initial release there have been numerous re-releases throughout Asia with new variations, including one split style that has the two main characters each having their own cover. Your mileage may vary in what you see due to this. No insert was included with this release.Menu:
Using one of the more iconic images from the film, the menu slowly pans into the scene of the characters on the lush green hill with the selection menu lined along the top. The menu takes a bit to load and anything you do to try and speed it up either doesn't work or causes it to go back to the warning screens and start again, which is just beyond annoying. The menu itself once loaded is quick and simple to use and easy to navigate as there's really nothing here besides the movie itself and the trailer. Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back when word first came out about the novel and manga based upon it was being brought over to North America by Viz Media, I had read about how it was adapted into numerous forms due to its initial popularity in the novel. That led to finding out about the TV series adaptation of it and the theatrical feature, which had become quite popular throughout Asia, enough so that there were multiple editions to choose from and just about all of them had English subtitles. Curiosity certainly grabbed me and I had a copy early this past spring but the sheer volume of anime releases kept this far on the backburner.
And that's a damn shame is the only thing I can say after spending a night with this film. I can't speak for how close it is to the novel as each of the various interpretations in other media have changed things slightly but I can say that this is a strong and very engaging movie even if it is at its core a standard and fairly tired premise. It's true that there are only so many stories in the world that can be told so it comes down to the way it's told and the characters that inhabit it and how it all gels together. That is what works so beautifully here as everything from the direction to the acting manages to pull this up beyond what you can consider traditional Japanese cinema of this genre and it does become something more. I haven't seen a large number of films in the genre but what I've seen has always felt more akin to a sappy TV drama more than anything else. Crying Out Love excels due to the characters and the style of the film being so much more.
The plot is conventional in that it uses two periods of time to tell its story and it does tell you right up front about the tragedy that will ensue. We're introduced to Sakutaro, a man in his late twenties who isn't exactly aimless in life but seems like he's being held back by something, who is going to be married soon to an attractive younger woman named Ritsuko. Both of them are in the final stages prior to being married and we see Ritsuko going through her place cleaning and packing it up for when they move in together and start their new lives. During this process she comes across a cassette tape that brings back a flood of memories to her before she can even buy a Walkman in order to play it. When she does, it starts off with a young woman's voice talking about how she's about to die. With that, she leaves a note for Sakutaro that she's leaving for a bit and will be back soon.
This doesn't strike Sakutaro as completely strange at first but when he's at his friends bar and sees Ritsuko on the TV in Kyushu as she's showing up behind an on the scene news reporter, he suddenly realizes something is going on. He races off there himself and finds himself back in his hometown searching for Ritsuko at first but then drawn to something else. Having not been there in ages, he's pulled back to his parents' house where he starts to ransack his room for something. Within a metal case he pulls out a small treasure load of cassette tapes that are all dated. Taking them and the Walkman within, he starts off with the earliest of the tapes and begins walking around the town.
Through the tapes, we go back to when Sakutaro was in high school and was growing up as one of the guys and trying to catch the eye of Aki, a young woman who was one of the popular athletic and intelligent types that just have an air of confidence and self assurance about them. Sakutaro's not exactly the cream of the crop but he has his interest in her and she recognizes that and instead of tormenting him or ignoring him, she goes for it to see what would happen by being friends first and going from there. The first time that she approaches him is amusing as she seems like she's going to bust him at first for taking a motorbike to school but then demands instead that he give her a ride. When he climbs on after her, she wraps her arms around him and then asks if he can feel her breasts, laughing as the bike zooms off.
In the past, we watch this romance slowly blossom and evolve as the two become ever closer and find new things about each other. One incident causes them to break apart a bit though when Sakutaro makes up a story to win a Walkman from a radio contest that sort of involves her but it's made up for what happens. She's furious about this but the result is that they start talking again by exchanging tapes with each other which are filled with their deeper thoughts and emotions and it ends up being the catalyst that really draws them strongly together as the rest of the events in their lives swirl around them.
In the present, Sakutaro and Ritsuko haven't met up but each of them are listening to the tapes they have and walking around the town as Typhoon #29 is almost upon them. They visit the locations we see in the past and the connections are drawn from there between them as the story weaves back and forth. With Aki's death foretold right from the start, it's one of those matter of time events and sometimes it seems like it may be dragged out a bit too much but what it's doing is allowing more time for their relationship to solidify even more and become much more than relationships at that age is. The pain that's experienced at the younger age is reflected in Sakutaro as he relives it all again in the present but what he's missing is that final tape that Ritsuko somehow has, the thing that may give him the closure he needs.
Unlike a lot of films of this nature, they actually use two actors for Sakutaro so that they do look similar but different enough. The older Sakutaro while not really old in his late twenties is definitely more worn and a bit more lined than the fresh faced sixteen year old that we see romance and being romanced by Aki. Each of the actors for Sakutaro handles their performances very well. The younger certainly has a lot of emotion to deal with and does it well, alternating between simply being straight faced and not showing any emotion since he's not sure what he should do with Aki to being so extremely tender and loving with her as things worsen. The older Sakutaro is equally well nuanced as he has so many pleasant memories that he's finally letting surface about his life but he also comes back to the fact that he hasn't let it go, that it still haunts him no matter how much he tries to run away from it. These anguished moments are just as powerful and are dealt with wonderfully with the secondary cast, such as when he and Uncle Shige talk about love and death.
There are a fair share of coincidences that are strung throughout the film and things that tie the characters together in ways that you say "only happens in the movies," but this is that kind of movie where these things can happen and it doesn't feel that far stretched. The instance in the beginning of the film when Sakutaro sees Ritsuko on the TV in the bar is a perfect example as he was just trying to call her but hangs up when he sees her there. What happens then almost shifts the film into a frightening mode and my heart jumped when I saw it, but I was able to laugh upon the second viewing of it. Ritsuko seems to get the short end of the stick during a lot of this though she's the catalyst for it and she has the role of being the one that has to be there for Sakutaro in the present while feeling like she's responsible for it in a number of ways.
If there's any issue I have with this release it's really just a note that the included English subtitles are part of a dual language subtitle track as it has both the simplified Chinese and English at the same time. This is a bit distracting at first but as the film moves on it becomes less and less so. It's a minor quibble but something that you probably won't find on the Japanese release itself.In Summary:
While I haven't had similar in my own life thankfully, this film does pack a powerful impact on the viewer as it weaves its tales across two times and two relationships. The cinematography is wonderful, the locations are beautiful and the ties to the Typhoon in both times is a nice touch. This movie hit me just right and it's definitely made an impact as several days later I'm still thinking about it and talking about it to people. I don't know if this is the kind of film that would have much meaning or strike as much resonance to someone younger as I can't really think this would strike me the same as it would have ten or fifteen years ago when I was in my early twenties. Right now though, Crying Out Love, In The Centre Of The World simply had me crying out at just the right times during it and will likely be in my mind for some time to come.
Japanese DTS-ES,Japanese DD EX 5.1,Cantonese DD 2.0,Traditional Chinese Subtitles,Simplified Chinese / English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.