Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
CHERRY BLOSSOMS MOVIE REVIEW
(Kirschbluten - Hanami)
Directed by: Doris Dorrie
Running time: 124 minutes, In German,English and Japanese with English Subtitles
Release date: January 16, 2009 (Limited)
Genre: Art/Foreign, Drama and Romance
Distributor: Strand Releasing
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Writer/director Doris Dorrie brings a story that quite daringly deals with such issues as love, marriage, patience and the often devastating effects of death of a relative. This is a film focusing on a man who goes in search of lost dreams of his deceased wife.
Trudi (Hannelore Elsner) and her husband Rudi Angermeir (Elmar Wepper, Best Actor winner at German Film Awards, the equivalent of the Academy Award) are a loving long married couple. They have grown married children and grandchildren who moved away from their rural community outside of Berlin. Both Trudi and Rudi have illnesses, however Trudi's sickness is terminal. Trudi doesn't tell her husband Rudi that she is terminally ill, but insist on visiting their children in Berlin and her favorite son in Japan. Unfortunately, Trudi dies without getting Japan.
The backstory is that Trudi loves to dance. She loved the fascinating Butoh dance, known by some people as the dance of the senses. Butoh is a dance that fluctuates from meditative gracefulness to grotesque. It comes from different forms of dance and modes of expression such as Ny, Flamenco and Capoeira, but it the dancer's imagination that creates the technique of the dance. It roots are post WWII Japan from Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-1986), a dance and writer and a central figure of Japanese avante-garde. He studied modern and German expressionist dance, then developed a new contemporary Japanese dance which he called Ankoku Butoh (dance of darkness). The dance is about portraying light and shadow, birth and death, the coming into being and the ceasing to exist. Joy becomes pain before becoming joy again.
In this tender, emotionally intense and profound story of grief and healing, Rudi, brilliantly played by Elmar Wepper, portrays a surviving spouse and companion. Rudi experiences grief in a different manner of what his children expected. He goes to live with his son Karlin (Maximilian Bruckner) in Japan, where he can identify his confusing emotions in getting to the other side of grief and overcoming his loss.
Elmar Wepper's sensitive performance assisted by the subtle, well paced plot, abd gorgeous scenery was masterful. The real treat in this film is how this story reaches its highest point in a pilgrimage to Mount Fuji in the midst of the cherry blossom festival, when Rudi meets a young orphan girl who dances the Butoh. Yu portrayed by a extremely talented Aya Irizuki, is a Butoh dancer who gets in touch with her deceased mother with the ritual of this dance. Trudi's passion was dance, though she abandoned dancing after her marriage to Rudi and starting a family. The meeting of Yu and Rudi is when and where Rudi's attitude determines his altitude (his height) in his recovery. The scenes between Aya Irizuki and Elmar Wepper are absorbing and fascinating, as she helps him by interfering with the ability to assimilate with his loss of Trudi. Accompanied by a excellent musical score and a great supporting cast of Nadja Uhl, Birgit Minichmayr, Felix Eitner, Floriane Daniel, Celine Tannenberger, Robert Dohlert and Tadashi Endo, this film saturated my emotions.
Cherry Blossoms, is simply stunning and irresistible. The plot's complex themes of coping with recovery from grief are superbly crafted into a simple formula of love and dance. However, bitter-sweet this movie is, be sure to carry your tissues to this film, because it is a tear jerker.
FILM RATING (B+)