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The fiercely romantic visible poetry stands out in Asako I & II ★★★★☆

Asako I & II: A Rough Love Story
A single image usually conveys the spirit of a whole movie. This picture of a woman and a man pursuing each other across the fields in Asako I and II, taken from a great peak, stands out. She makes vain attempts to get together with him. Then, as the cloud appears to be moving across the landscape, it gets closer and closer to them. like when you observe how these mortals’ fates get in the way.

In Asako I & II, Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi allows himself these rare moments of sharp poetry, which are made all the more noticeable by the otherwise docile, environment-friendly model. In these scenes, the movie’s fierce romance spills onto the screen as the lead character momentarily loses all self-control. You should be familiar by this point with Hamaguchi’s elegant, non-intrusive narrative style and his sympathetic assessment of the intricacies of interpersonal interactions. The protagonists in Hamaguchi’s works usually struggle to control themselves.

Based primarily on a novel by Tomoka Shibasaki, Bee Asako I & II allows you to go inside Asako’s (Erika Karata) experiences. Perhaps it also alludes to her dual personality—the Asako who demands to be dragged away from the Asako who yearns for connection.

Not a particularly shocking subject, much like how Hamaguchi best addresses the issue. Asako, who is reserved and hopeful, develops feelings for the attractive but mysterious Baku (Masahiro Higashide). Hamaguchi puts a strong stop to their romance, only to break it off just as strongly. After working in an espresso shop in Tokyo for two years, “and a bit more,” Asako feels she has finally realised that Ryôhei, a candy maker who is also a very successful businessman, is missing Baku.

The ramifications of that encounter are immeasurable, but the film daringly pushes the bounds of plausibility by featuring Higashide in an unlikely dual role. As Ako, Erika Karata, is even more elevated. Where Higashide plays two characters, Karata must reconcile all of the conflicting emotions and paradoxes in one girl, which she manages to accomplish quite deftly.

Even yet, some may find Asako’s choices and storyline turns offensive or unsettling. But to put it plainly, this ingeniously handled drama about love’s madness and struggles might completely engross you.

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