Thoughts on Norwegian Wood (2010). WARNING: Spoilers and terribly long post.
Watched this in an effort to get into Murakami in an effort to actually read fictions. Absolutely loving it. Murakami’s stories (or at least this adaptation) doesn’t seem as messed-up as I try to expect it to be. But then again I’ve watched Oldboy, so everything else is tame in comparison.
I haven’t read the book, but watching this film made me believe that everyone has their own struggles in the past, and Tran Anh Hung succeeded in delivering it in such few shots, especially for side characters such as Nagasawa, Natsumi, and Reiko.
So I’m gonna go in-depth on why I love each and every single character in this film, and how are they so, human.
Nagasawa: He’s a great friend, but we all can agree that he’s a dick to Natsumi. He is almost too simple of a character until his final advice to Watanabe revealed something. He said, “Don’t ever feel sorry for yourself, only degenerates feel that way.”
It showed that he probably has battled with self-esteem issues in the past, and he had come far to get to where he is right now. Was it family abuse? He’s also very ambitious, did he came out from poverty?
Natsumi: She loves Nagasawa so much, almost unconditionally. It’s the greatest feeling in the world, also the worst. The moment she killed herself, albeit being told in narrative, was the most heart-breaking moment in the film for me.
Midori: Despite coming from a broken home, she decides to stay optimistic. Flirtatious, but respect the social contract of being in a relationship, hence she only fully came out to Watanabe after she broke up, and still wait for him to settle things with his other love interest.
My favorite moment of Midori is when she talked about of her idea of love. She want to be pampered, loved, and protected, it all sounded almost selfish. But I appreciate her honesty. She just don’t want to be hurt again.
Reiko: She is portrayed as the mentor figure in the film, especially with the sensei title. But all the while she was accompanying the couple, I couldn’t help but wonder, how does she feels? She’s a human being too, a woman. She also deserves to have the feeling of companionship.
I was partly relieved for the end scene with Watanabe. Though I genuinely panicked for him (he promised to go back straight to Midori, but he also shouldn’t refuse Reiko as she, too, deserve happiness), I was relieved that Reiko was given the chance to re-discover what she has long lost.
Naoko: We never really know what made her plunged too deep into depression and schizophrenia, but we know that she was in a lot of pain. Too much pain. Unsure of her real feelings towards Kitsuki, inability to really experience physical intimacy, hopelessness, not getting answers, too much.
I can’t articulate enough on how I relate to her the most, but I do.
Kitsuko: He’s someone interesting. Very short airtime in the film, but only towards the end we can sympathize what Kitsuki had to go through. One of it being, unable to make Naoko happy?
Watanabe: He’s the guy who has to take everything in, from everyone in his life. Except during the time Kitsuko, and later Naoko, kill themselves, he never showed much reaction. Naoko showed up after years of disappearance? Okay. Disappear again? Okay. Midori flirted with him and describing very visual sexual encounter? Okay. She got mad and cut contact with him? Okay. Nagasawa and Natsumi making the dinner uncomfortable? Okay. Reiko came back asking to sleep together? Okay. OMG WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE IN WATANABE’S LIFE.
What I love most about him, however, is his overbearing sense of responsibility towards Naoko. Like what he told Midori, even if hypothetically he doesn’t love Naoko, he still have to be with her. Poignant, but beautiful.
Well that’s it. I’m grateful I watched this as there are too many things to take away from. Putting this into words so I will have a record on how I feel about the story, before getting into the book. Ta!