Monday, October 13, 2008

Hana & Alice

In order to tell everyone that animators do not just live in the world of animation, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite live-action film, a Japanese film by Shunji Iwai, "Hana & Alice."

It's a love story, but the theme is not the topic "Love." Rather, it's about "life."
Iwai is a filmmaker who is very careful about the details and the entire look of his films, so in "Hana & Alice", every single shot is very carefully depicted, as you can see in this trailer. Its visual beautifulness impresses me the most at first sight.

It looks like a film about a typical "triangular Relationship," but it's not. The main two characters, Hana and Alice are two best friends, whereas Hana has a crush on one boy. One day, Hana is following secretly the boy, while the boy is walking back home, reading. Unexpectedly, the boy's head hits on the metal door and falls down, getting faint. Hana then talks to him after he wakes up: "Do you remember me? I'm your girlfriend." She makes up a story to lie to him that he has amnesia, and forgets the "fact" that she is his girlfriend. The boy then trusts it.
In order to make the lie more believable to him, Hana thinks of another idea of letting Alice be the boy's ex-girlfriend. The boy then begins his exploration of finding back his "memories" with these two girls who he actually has never seen before.
The concept of this story has created an extremely difficult situation to each character, so I find so interesting that the begining is not just visually depicted, but also thoroughly planed out. based on this complicated but exciting delimmas, each charcater starts their journey of solving this issue that is created by Hana.

Looking at the entire film, it has a perfect idea, but seeing closely, the details in this film also present the director's intention to imply or convey ideas for depicting these different characters in different situations. Iwai has focused so much on Alice's family background, at the same time, observing how she react to her friend Hana, the boy, as well as her effort for becoming a star in her real life. All these details of Alice are very naturally performed, as there does not seem to have an intentional set-up scene to let one specific event happen, in order for developing the story to the "climax." However, through this natural and flat style of storytelling, Alice, as a third personl in the beginning, begins to become the key man within this triangular relationship. As she is passivly to help Hana, meanwhile, she has her own problem and goal to deal with in her life. This interesting chaos shaping Alice to be a very outstanding character, who tells more about herself, as a person, instead of just what she does to help Hana. She helps this film to stand out from a love story to a life story. These scenes are all amazingly done and really enjoyable to watch carefullly.

Watch all of these if you have time...... or maybe just choose one clip to watch....

The real "climax" for this film is the ending scene where Alice dances her favorite ballet in front of the nerdy photographer during the magzine interview. As Alice has failed hundreds of times from other interviews and auditions, she finally decides to open herself, showing her real talent. Even though Ballet is totally irrelated to the photograph of the magzine, she insists on doing so and everyone in the room throws the attention on her. This dance goes for the entire 5 minutes, with no other events happening, but just her dancing in the room. The photographer was completely overwhelmed by her performance. However, rather than "performance," Iwai actually shows her passion and bravity towards her life, while confronting with difficulties of her single-parent family, best friend Hana and the boy, through this dance. Alice shines while dancing this Ballet, not for her perfect performance, but rather an inner power from her attitude. That's why the camera often looks at other people who forget about their work, staring at her.

This film has enlightened me so much that I do not want to make any critism on it.

1 comment:

1minutefilmreview said...

Nice review Yang, we're Iwai fans too. Check out some reviews on our blog.