Asako is a 21-year-old woman who falls in love with Baku, a free-spirited young man. One day, Baku suddenly disappears. 2 years later, Asako now lives in Tokyo and meets Ryohei. He looks just like Baku, but he has a completely different personality. Asako falls in love with Ryohei, but…
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As is true of any festival, this one has some head-scratchers, including “Asako I & II,” a bland drama about a young woman, a cipher as droopy as the movie, whose heart breaks when her lover walks out.
Hamaguchi buries the miraculous under the banal, and vice versa, tracking his characters through cafés and conference rooms, cramped apartments and ordinary streets, with the wide-eyed sincerity of melodrama.
"Asako Ⅰ & Ⅱ" is a hauntingly reveriesh & phantasmagorically nightmarish love triangle with stylish direction, repetition of sinister music & delicate depiction of a woman's floating heart. Masahiro Higashide aces as doppelgängers like the mysterious & the straightforward, making me think this is a ominous horror. Finally, I met with a Japanese movie which truly I love. It should be 20 mins shorter but still great.
The hyperbole surrounding this film is ridiculous. I saw a tender, arty love story. Nothing more. This is not Happy Hour. This is a good director dipping his toe into the commercial waters of modern Japanese cinema – a place where romantic dramas like this are a dime a dozen. I like this film and the restaurant scene is a heartbreaking punch to the gut, but I'll repeat: This Is Not Happy Hour.
Viennale _ For the little entertainment you will find here, "Asako 1&2" is still pretty bad. The first time they meet, right in the beginning, gives you the creep of how terrible the film might be. Then it settles in a more clichéd storytelling and filmmaking, solid but never really special. Only to fall down again in the last thirty minutes or so. I can´t believe this was in the Cannes official selection.
How is it that between this and his masterpiece Happy Hour, Asako feels the overlong and less spirited feature. Some pretty banal observations, I am sure this bears the same plot as a bigger American RomCom. Which is to say it has a solipsism and overall emphasis on the conflict between domesticity and _____(?) that I found unconvincing despite loving his overarching sense of play.
7.8/10 "ASAKO I & II is an auspicious discovery of a new Japanese auteur in the vein of Hirokazu Koreeda and Naomi Kawase, that is something every cineaste should extol!"
my full review - https://wp.me/p1eXom-3WV
3,5/5 Drame romantique ambigu, Asako I & II interroge avec subtilité le sentiment amoureux tout en flirtant avec les codes du fantastique sans jamais vraiment les assumer. Chronique complète à lire sur Citazine : https://www.citazine.fr/article/asako-i-ii-romance-copiee-collee