Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Happily Ever After (自虐の詩)
Does unconditional love exist? If so, can it be the reason for somebody to stick with an abusive relationship no matter how bad the situation gets?
Obviously Japanese director Yukihiko Tsutsumi (堤幸彦, "Memories of Tomorrow") believes that magic. Based on a best seller comic series (manga), he creates a few memorable characters in "Happily Ever After" (自虐の詩 | Japan 2007 | in Japanese | 117 min. | a VIZ Pictures release).
Yukie Morita (Miki Nakatani) is devoted wife who works in a small restaurant with an infatuated boss Ishihiya (Kenichi Endo). Her often drunk, jobless, wordless, short tempered husband Isao Hayama (Hiroshi Abe) frequently expresses himself by overturning the dinning table, spectacularly. However, Yukie completely dedicates herself to Isao against everybody's advice, because she loves Isao unconditionally.
The first half of the film has plenty energy packed with over-the-top comedy. However, that style and energy vanish in the second half of the film. It turns into a melodrama that traces back to Yukie's trying time during her high school years and her difficult beginning after she first arrives in Tokyo.
Does that explain where Yukie's unconditional love is coming from? Not really. The story comes short to justify her unconditional love. Isao seems completely changed into a different person, without giving any reason. Yet, Yukie simply stands by her man without one single complain. And, she is not even a robot.
While these characters are original and colorful, the lack of transaction and development in these characters makes them less convincing. Also, the subplot about the friendship between Yukie and her underdog classmate never seem fully realized and appeared to be out of the place.
"Happily Ever After" has its charming moments as well as its flaws. For people who follow the manga series, it's definitely a welcome addition. After all, who can forget the fantastic flying sushi dipping into soy sauce in the mid air when the table is turned up side down?
You may call that unconditional love.