This time I’d like to review a movie I just finished watching, “陽だまりの彼女”, which I would categorize as an offbeat romance.
To start off with a linguistic note, the word 陽だまり is a little tricky to translate to English because there really isn’t a good match, at least using a single word. Here 陽 (hi) means “sun” or “sunlight” (also written 日), and たまり (溜まり） comes from the verb たまる (溜まる), which means “to collect” or “to pool”. Literally this word means “a pool of sunlight”, just as the word “水たまり” means “a puddle of water”. Pretty poetic, huh? However what this really means is a warm, sunny place. I’ve seen several translations for this movie’s title, such as “The girl in the sun” and “Girl in the sunny place”. I think these are both good translations, though I personally considered something like “Girl of the sun”, “Girl with the sun in her hair”, or “Girl from Enoshima”.
This film features two actors who are pretty big stars of the TV drama world, Juri Ueno and Jun Matsumoto. I’ve seen both of them in various shows, but the most notable for her was Nodame Cantabile, and for him was Kimi wa Petto. To be honest, I don’t think either of them is an actor with great range, though she is cute enough to brighten any role, and he is… well I guess just good enough in a generic way. Some people think he is a super attractive star, though I don’t agree, especially at his current age. In any case my familiarity with both actors definitely helped with my enjoyment of this work.
As usual, in this review I’ll avoid netabare (spoilers), and keep things pretty high-level. The basic premise of the story, which you learn very early on, is that Juri and Jun’s characters (I’ll just use their real names here from here on) had a thing for each other in high school, but ended up going separate ways. Now they are much older and happen to meet again, when Jun is working at an advertising company and Juri is a client. Up till this point everything is sweet puppy love and roses.
But things get a little more complicated when it is revealed that (to keep it vague) one or both of them have secret(s) in their past. Will their relationship survive the forces of fate or get stronger as a result? Thats the kind of movie we have here. The final thing I’ll say about the story is that these secret(s) are what keeps you guessing and watching until the end.
As a movie which throws hints here and there and gradually reveals what is really going on, I think the director (Takahiro Miki), did a pretty good job. If you are Japanese you might pick up on some of the hints much quicker, due to some cultural or linguistic references.
For those studying Japanese, this movie is pretty good since over half of the dialog is straightforward daily-life stuff, with some work-talk thrown in which may have some unfamiliar lingo. I followed my usual practice (with movies) of watching with Japanese subtitles. Surely it isn’t the best way to practice listening, but it does help improve reading speed, kanji knowledge, and general vocabulary. Also I feel that if you want to reuse some of the phrases you hear in your own life you will have a better time if watching with subtitles. If you want to be hardcore you can listen to it once with just Japanese audio and then re-watch with the subtitles on, though I don’t have enough free time to make that feasible.
In summary, though I won’t claim this movie is a masterpiece, it was quite enjoyable to watch and guess along as the narrative progressed. Highly recommended for anyone studying Japanese, anyone who likes either or both actors, or just someone looking for a “different” type of romance movie.