ReviewWriter: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Departures” and “Flowers in the Shadow”.
Based on the novel by Mizuki Tsujimura of the same name, Ayumi Shibuya (Tori Matsuzaka) is the grandson of a 'connector' (Kirin Kiki); a person vested with the power to act as an intermediary between the living who wants to meet with the dead. The gift has been passed down between the generations of the Shibuya family as a way to maintain close familial ties.
Ayumi is being groomed to be the next 'connector' in line, but he must first learn the responsibilities and the burden that comes with being a 'connector', as the infamous Spider-Man saying goes. He begins his apprenticeship by meeting the requestors who wish to see someone who is deceased, and explain the rules that makes every meeting a once-in-a-lifetime event for the dead and the living, and would only last for one night.
"Until the Break of Dawn" belongs in the category of morbid dramas. If you know some of director Yuichiro Hirakawa's previous works, then you can certainly see how the premise of the film is the sort of material that is ripe for his picking. If your tear ducts are not likely going to be manipulated by emotions of the characters shown on the screen, then the heighten soundtrack should do the trick.
But all this would not have worked if not for the performance. While Tori Matsuzaka does very little, compared to the performance of Kirin Kiki, the real acting is done in the small hotel room where spirit meets the living. The meetings are not simply heartbreaking because they are one sob story after the next, but because each meeting is surrounded by circumstances that are carefully developed in the background, and when they meet there is a mixture of bitterness in every acceptance or forgiveness, and sweetness in every regret or sadness between the characters, for that tremendous outburst of emotions as the first rays of dawn pass through the curtains.
"Until the Break of Dawn" reads very much like a novel, as it is very character-driven rather than having underlying intentions to dispense any pretentious wisdom. As much as the requestors come to terms in meeting with their passed loved ones for one last time, Ayumi also has to come to terms with the strange death of his parents and once he receives the baton, he will never be able to use his powers to see them, until it is passed on.
As Ayumi accepts his new role as a 'connector', "Until the Break of Dawn" is probably one that needs a little emotional preparation. Otherwise, it's best to bring in a pack of tissues or if you are lucky, a shoulder to cry on. Cinema Online, 19 September 2013