Last Letter (Rasuto Reta, 2020)

Hong Kong Panorama Corporation Ltd. Blu-ray edition - REGION A

This disc released 2020-11-06




Shunji made his first version of this film and based on his own novel, in China in 2018 (read more about this Chinese film on my
Japanese film page 1) and i liked this version too and maybe especially the great Zhou Xun (one of my favourite Chinese actresses)
in the main role as the sister going to the school reunion (Zhou Xun seen below)

I thought the Chinese Last Letter to be just a little bit too melodramatic and sentimental, or mainstream maybe to suit my taste, but
it was pretty good still. Now after watching this second version of his "Last Letter" the Japanese one, i found it to be even more
sentimental and with too sugary piano music from Takeshi Kobayashi (the great Takeshi Kobayashi, who provided Iwai with some
fantastic soundtracks as i.a. the magic music to masterpieces "All About Lily Chou-Chou" and "Swallowtail Butterfly") i'm sorry
but sugary piano fragments is NOT needed to underscore the already sentimental happenings.
Like the Chinese version "Last Letter" feels like a mix of "Soul Mate (Qi yue yu an sheng)" and Iwai's early 1990's Hit "Love Letter".

Which film version do i like the most ? 2nd "Last Letter" starts in a light-hearted almost comical tone, and then to turn into melo-
drama and maybe Shunji Iwai should've stuck with one style (and preferably a slightly comical one as the Chinese film already
have been melodramatic. The films are very much alike but maybe, just maybe the Japanese version feels more fluid, and the girls
playing the double roles - Suzu Hirose and Nana Mori (who also sings the end credits song "Kaeru no Uta") were very good and
felt natural in their performances, much alive, and Shunji Iwai is known for his fine work with young actors, and he really seems
to like working with them. Yes, i know, Zhang Zifeng was great also in the Chinese version as one of the sisters.

Takako Matsu as Yuri Kishibeno posting one of her letters. Matsu that 22 years ago played the lead in Shunji Iwai's delightful and
whimsical 1998 "April Story" where she played a student coming from the northern island of Hokkaido.

The Japanese "Last Letter" :

The film starts with the funeral of Misaki Tono who has died only 44 years old. Her sister Yuri Kishibeno (Matsu) is married to a
Manga illustrator (Hideako Anno) and has two children, a young son and a teenage daughter, Soyoka (Nana Mori in a double role).
Soyoka decides to stay with her friend, her cousin Ayumi (Suzu Hirose, also in a double role) the daughter of Misaki Tono, over
the summer. Ayumi handles over a letter sent to Misaki to Yuri, and it's about a High School reunion meeting after 25 years.
Yuri goes to the school reunion to tell Misaki's classmates that Misaki is dead but somehow can't say it, and everyone there thinks
she's Misaki. When she leaves a man from the meeting is following her, and he's novelist Kyoshiro Otosaka (Masaharu Fukuyama),
a man that tells her he's always loved her - Misaki, and still is. She doesn't tell him that she's Misaki's sister.

They exchange contact info and he then starts sending her mobile phone messages and old time letters. There are lots and lots of
letters written in this film. Dear Misaki .... Dear Kyoshiro .... Dear Misaki .... and so on. She writes back to him.
Yuri's husband gets very annoyed when he sees her messages, she explains why, but he "punishes" her by inviting his mother to
stay for a week and by getting two enormous dogs, Irish Wolfhounds .... for Her to take care of. So far in the film Japanese "Last
Letter" has a decidely more comical tone than the Chinese "Last Letter".
Then also the girls starts writing back to Kyoshiro as Misaki.

Then comes The Flashback. How Kyoshiro first met Yuri in High School, Yuri who was Misaki's younger sister, and how he fell in
love with beautiful Misaki at the moment he saw her for the first time. He started writing her love letters which he gave to Yuri to
give to her big sister. Cruel as Yuri (Nana Mori) was in love with Kyoshiro and he didn't notice, and Misaki wasn't in love with him.

The Mystery of the resemblance ?

As mentioned this high school triangle drama resembles very much the Chinese 2016 film "Soul Mate" (Qi yue yu an sheng) a film
based on a serialized web novel written by Li Jie AKA Ann Baobei or Annie Baby, where Shunji Iwai has based his Last Letter
films on his own novel. So .... who has ripped who ? Has Li Jie ripped Iwai or has Iwai ripped Li Jie ?
I haven't been able to find out who's writing came first ?

The film is presented in widescreen (ratio not stated) and with japanese audio Dolby True HD 5.1 or Dolby Digital EX with english
subtitles, only a trailer as extra. This is a REGION A bluray edition

 

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