ReviewWriter: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Up” and “Amour”
Eiji Shimakura (Ken Takakura) is a strict and serious officer at the Tomoyama prison, where he also acts as a part-time woodworks instructor to help with the prisoners' reformation. Although his life seems like it is going to be spent as a lifetime bachelor due to the deep dedication he gives to his job, he is smitten by a singer called Yoko (Tanaka Yuko), during a performance for the inmates and they eventually marry. Years later, Yoko dies from cancer and thus ends their 15 year marriage. Eiji, who is unsure of how he should mourn over her death, shows up to work the next day when he should be taking his condolence leave.
His uncertainties are answered when he receives a letter from his late wife and is told that another letter would be waiting for him at a distant port town in Nagasaki, which he later finds out to be Yoko's hometown that she had left since she was 13. Opening the first letter, he is told to spread Yoko's ashes into the sea at her hometown as her final wish. To accomplish this, he embarks on the long road ahead with his customized van to find out what awaits him at the end of the road.
Despite what the setup may suggest, "Dearest" isn't a drama that is aimed to be mopey or a tearjerker, but goes towards being a matured and calm exploration about the meaning of a marriage. As Eiji travels along the road, he encounters characters who are at different states of marriage themselves, as they remind him of moments of the marriage he had.
The plot thickens when Eiji arrives at his destination. After receiving a rather mysterious goodbye from his wife's last letter and unable to secure a ship due to record breaking winds, the themes evolve like a butterfly breaking out from its cocoon. Though the ending might seem a little far-fetched, it puts a good punctuating point that life goes on, even when it has almost lost all of its meaning, and we drift only when we don't have a place we can call a home.
"Dearest" may be a little hard to comprehend for those below a certain age because Yasuo Furuhata presents the film in a very philosophical manner, but if you can accept the simultaneous taste of sweetness and the swelling tragedy in watching a happy old couple going on dates like they were in their teens, then "Dearest" is probably one that would make you sit and ponder about marriage, finding oneself and drifting on the endless road that is called life for the entire film. Cinema Online, 19 September 2013