Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jmovie review: Fourteen / 14歳

While bullying movies/dorama are a dime a dozen, I've don't remember seeing one that approaches it quite like Fourteen. If I have to compare it with another movie, I'd say its a darker version of Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo and explores issues of bullying and being 14 years old through the eyes of teacher and students without giving a simple answer.

The first half of the movie is very disorganised. We see bits and pieces about the 5 main characters but the narrative is quite weak. Compounding the problem was some very questionable cinematography. For example, there is an important scene where the teacher finds something written on the blackboard but the camera is just floating around aimlessly and distractingly in the middle of the classroom and its not even representing  a student's viewpoint.

The movie starts to make sense in the middle when the connection is made with the stabbing scene in the beginning and we realise who the characters are and what actually is going on. Its hard to talk about the movie without spoilers but let's say it covers a lot of dark and interesting subject matter well. Like all dark/realistic movies, everyone's got issues not just the students and nothing gets resolved easily.

Interesting to note that the director, Hirosue Hiromasa also plays on the of the main characters Sugino, a piano teacher and a very young Sometani Shota (Minna! Esper Dayo!) plays his student. The acting is really good but I feel slightly let down by the directing/cinematography. Its not just the above mentioned classroom scene. Instead of feeling like a fly on the wall, sometimes I feel like I'm peering at the characters from outside. I'm not saying the camera work is atrocious, just that it could have been a lot better and less distant.

I'd like to give it a must watch but I can't. The first half could have been tighter and the camera work much better but the script and acting more than make up for it. Despite its slight flaws, its a dark movie with a soul and its guaranteed to stay with you after watching. If you're looking for a serious jmovie about youth and bullying, you can't go wrong with Fourteen.

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