Score = A-
(Sci-Fi/Adventure/Romance/Foreign) Not Rated (PG if I had to put a stamp on it)
Review by: Kisho Wolfe
Logline: Time travelling with a side of heart-strings on board.
This film struck a number of nerves…and ninety percent of them were all good! Time Traveller is a foreign film released in Japan a few years back. It’s based off of a novel written by Yasutaka Tsutsui in 1967, but was first published in Japanese youth magazines years before that. The story is old people. But, this is a testament of what happens when great story telling is put together properly with nice scenery and excellent acting. (Riisa Naka’s performance was like inhaling the scent of cherry blossoms on a cool, breezy day–refreshing.) The story has had many adaptations through live-action film, anime, short stories, and even television throughout the years. Looks like people really enjoy it, eh?
This particular iteration of the story deals with the daughter, Akari (Riisa Naka) of the well-known main character of the original, Kazuko (Narumi Yasuda). Akari has just passed an exam and well on her way to following in her mother’s foot-steps in the world of science. These two have a great bond and it’s only natural that they celebrate together. Akari’s birthday is near and Kazuko receives a mysterious note from her brother which strangely enough, makes her start having flashbacks and day dreams at random times. One such time happens to put her in the hospital by way of a car accident and lands her in a coma. She comes out of the coma long enough to tell her daughter about a man named Kazuo and tasks her with going back in time to deliver a message to him.
At first glance, Time Traveller seems a tad too cheesy for a film that was made in the last three years. I will admit, I almost started to check for another movie after the first fifteen minutes, but it kicked into gear after the set-up. Director Masaaki Taniguchi blends new age environments and settings to old-school camera close-ups and dramatic lingers. But, as the film goes on, these techniques, along with others, actually blend perfectly to obtain the desired effect of its world. Tight quarters are prominent throughout the apartments and the film reflects this thanks to the shots and angels. There were a few moments when I felt myself scrunching my body closer together at the utter lack of space in Ryota’s (Akinobu Nakao) apartment. When a movie can make you physically react to something happening on-screen, well that’s just good directing right there!
Time Traveller is more than just an adventure. A solid love story on two fronts unfolds during the movie and achieves the rare sync of multi-layered plot lines that most other movies just can’t seem to get right. The over-arching theme of what/why Kazuko needs to get a message to this mysterious man during an earlier time in her life and the truth about what really happened with Akari’s actual father, cleverly unfold during the movie. Add Ryota’s connection with a few members of Akari’s family and the type of relationship that may or may not be happening between the two of them and you’ve got a triple threat of genius.
The scenery is also nicely done in the film. The majority of everything dealing with different time periods is creatively on point. Everything from modern technology in 2010 to city blocks/building setups and cars circa 1974 look good. Even our glance, albeit very brief glance, into the 2600’s get the mind thinking about what if… With that said, my slight peeve with this film actually involves the on-screen imagery. There are a few inconsistencies that pop up, but are not enough to ruin the movie. (I won’t mention them, because if you’re like me, you’ll start waiting for the moment to come up on-screen instead of enjoying the movie) Now, if there were a bunch of them, then it wouldn’t matter because they would ruin the film themselves.
Time Traveller is a random movie I decided to watch when the appetite craved something a little different, and it inadvertently ended up being the best romance movie I’ve watched in years; and it isn’t even a rom-com! (Yes, there are comedy moments.) Aaaand it has sub-titles! (I usually hate sub-titles.) I definitely recommend this movie to anyone who wants something a little different and happens to like their romance with a little bit of sci-fi flava. Tastes gooooood!