On *Five Centimeters Per Second*

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A film so beautiful, poignant, sad and nostalgic, you wonder why you didn’t watch it sooner.

This is NOT sarcasm. Never before has this blog seen anything approved or positively reviewed, so you might wonder; this wasn’t merely due to happenstance, but because there is nothing to be said about a film or book that you really like. It just is. There are Takahata and Miyazaki anime that fare better than this one, of course, and films like The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013), My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), Grave of the Fireflies (1988), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), and Whisper of the Heart (1995) are a class par excellence.

Five Centimeters Per Second (Dir. Makoto Shinkai, 2007) is not brilliant or mesmerizing, being one of those coming-of-age stories, but it still captures the terrors of adolescence/childhood, the fears, the crippling sadness, the bittersweetness of love, and the pittedness of small human life against a torrent of colossal waves of time, the world, the future. It is a masterpiece in its own right; the paintings of nature, the countryside, the cityscape, night, and day, the beauty of the world are harmoniously tuned to the story of loss and separation, with its moments of flickering happiness and quiet humour and the deep pangs of sadness that permeate the music, the dialogue, and the colours.

Trains figure quite a lot in the film, possibly because train journeys have an inherent sadness about it, the anxiety of being in the limbo between places — the boarding place and the destination — and the overwhelming efficiency and the sense of direction of the train pulling along its dozens of coaches filled with expectant travellers, much like life itself. As Takaki makes the short but arduous and painfully prolonged journey to meet Akari, he narrates,”The station seemed unbelievably far apart, […] every minute seemed like an eternity. Time felt heavy with malice, as it slowly crept by. All I could do was grit my teeth and try to hold back my tears. Akari — please…please…don’t wait for me.” Though she has waited for him then, years later, in the city apartment Takaki resides, the sombre hues of melancholy seem his half-hearted wish come true: “I’m just living my life, it’s just that sadness piles up all around me. It is in my bed, dried in the sun; the toothbrush in my bathroom; in the memory of my cellphone [….] then one day I realized my heart was withering, and in it there was nothing but pain. And one morning I realized that my beliefs that I’d once held so passionately had completely disappeared. That was it. I couldn’t take any more. So I quit my job.” It is true that the film at first glance could easily be seen as sentimental hogwash–well, anybody who reads the synopsis of the film would–but the beauty of the film lies not in its plot, but its execution.

CLOWNIN’ Score: 4/5

 

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