HOLD MY HAND (TEO TSUNAIDE KAEROUYO): A MOVING TALE OF SOUL SEARCHING AND LOVE REDISCOVERED; OKINAWA 2016 REVIEW
HOLD MY HAND (TEO TSUNAIDE KAEROUYO)
Director: Yoko Narahashi
Production Company: United Performers Studio, 2016
Having another career as a prominent Japanese casting director in many Hollywood blockbusters, from ‘Babel’, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ to ’The Last Samurai’, ’47 Ronin’ and ‘The Wolverine’, director Yoko Narahashi referred as a Japan’s gatekeeper to Hollywood.
Also listed as a producer (‘Emperor’ & ‘The Last Samurai’), actress and even screenwriter, ‘Hold My Hand’ (Teo Tsunaide Kaerouyo = Hold my Hand and Take me Home) is her third directorial feature after ‘Winds of God’ (1995; won Special Jury Prize in Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in 1993) and ‘Waiting for the Sun’ (2008).
‘Hold My Hand’ is more like a labor of love for Narahashi over her long-span friendship with the screenwriter, Masayuki Imai (‘Winds of God’ was also based on his play), who passed awazy when in the movie casting process. Masayuki Imai himself was supposed to star in the film but the role goes to the actor Jay Kabira as his condition deteriorated.
The film tells the story of Makoto (Jay Kabira), who suffers from a slight learning disability that causes him to be bullied and humiliated since high school days. Later married to a high school best friend with similar affliction, Sakura (Nanami), Makoto fell into crime activities in attempts to protect Sakura. Years later, Makoto sets up a journey to recall his promise of the honeymoon he never had with Sakura and meets Reiko (Sumire) along the way, as the twist of fate begins to reveal itself.
While there might be nothing new about the plot, part of road trip, anti-bully morals and family – friendship – love drama about self finding could blend into a touching human story; a moving tale about soul searching and love rediscovered. It’s not once fell into a cheesy Asian melodrama but restrained in a sophisticated way. The back and forth storytelling also puts some insights about Japanese culture smoothly.
As the center of the story, though no detailed explanations about the level of learning disability, Jay Kabira puts a certain sensitivity to portray Makoto, make the audience feel for him. There’s a powerful chemistry, too, with both Sumire and Nanami who got her part in an audition as a newcomer in their movie industry. The panoramic cinematography by Yuji Imai is another good thing from ‘Hold My Hand’, one that depicts their strong intimacy with the subject.
Though another true winner in ‘Hold My Hand’ is the music scoring by Face 2 Fake. Resembles what Japanese dramatic feature did best once in 2004 melodrama ‘Be With You (Ina, Ai Ni Yukimasu)’ with Suguru Matsutani’ scoring parts, without having to steer our emotions too much, the composition is a truly beautiful one, plus the theme song by JAY’ED, a cover of a classic hits ‘My Way’ with a Latin flamenco twist from the music arranger Yasuaki Maejima, who is well known as an original member of Qrquesta de la Luz. (dan)