The 8-Year Engagement is not your average tear-jerker romance flick. Directed by the prolific Takahisa Zeze, who is best known for 1990s soft-core ‘pink films’, the genre and film-maker pairing was perhaps the most unexpected combination for the 2018 program.
While the genre is outside the director’s usual territory, the emotional impact of the story and the sophisticated portraiture he develops are certainly within Zeze’s domain. The 8-Year Engagement is based on a real-life story of a young couple whose relationship maps the complex neurological changes caused by encephalitis. Having documented their story on YouTube, Mai and Hisashi’s profound experience then became a best-selling autobiographical novel in 2015, and is now told on screen by Tao Tsuchiya (as Mai) and Takeru Sato (as Hisashi).
Zeze last wowed JFF audiences in 2017 with Japan Academy Award Nominated film (Part I), 64: Parts I and II. This year, we’re excited to share Zeze’s latest (eclectic) offerings: us the gripping drama of The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine, thriller My Friend ‘A’, and romance, The 8-Year Engagement.
Screen queen supreme Haruka Ayase stars as (literal) royalty – Princess Miyuki, alongside Kentaro Sakaguchi as Kenji, the love-sick aspiring film director, and Tsubasa Honda as the unrequited (but so deserving) corner of the triangle.
The visually stunning film takes us into a world of whimsy where Ayase quite literally steps out of the silver screen bringing our beautiful monochrome heroine into Kenji’s reality – which happens to be a bustling film set in 1960s Japan!
The real star of this love story is more than the gorgeous costuming and a dimpled ikemen. Director Hideki Takeuchi’s charming account of the Golden Age of Japanese cinema (the 1950s-early 60s) offers a view to the thriving era of innovation, technical experimentation and brilliant acting talent.