I´ve never seen such a terrible and painful adaptation like this Norwegian Wood. Haruki Murakami´s novel, even if full of literary references, is still an easy or accessible book what, I knew, could be used for the best or for the worst. The thing is that what I expected of worst was a sort of pretentious indie film and not that Anh Hung Tran would kill the main points and characteristics of the story to transform it in a beautiful and acceptable garbage. Who claims that the film is faithful to the novel, probably have not read it, unless the English translation is really that different from the original in Japanese.*
If you haven´t read Murakami´s novel, you can like this film. If you did, you´ll feel like killing youself and right in the first scenes. Nagazawa would never, never, say that "Life is short. There's no sense in wasting time on books in a sense of time is absent."
When I did finally meet the one person in my world who had read Gatsby, he and I became friends because of it. His name was Nagasawa. (...) He was a far more voracious reader than me, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least 30 years.
"That's the only kind of book I can trust," he said. "It's not that I don't believe in contemporary literature," he added, "but I don't want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short."
"What kind of authors do you like?" I asked, speaking in respectful tones to this man two years my senior.
"Balzac, Dante, Joseph Conrad, Dickens," he answered without hesitation.
How to take it serious and keep watching a film that visibly pretends nothing but please the mass? Perhaps, everything is allowed in an adaptation, but to completely change the story is going too far. Nagazawa is only one of the many faults. Naoko and Midori are played by very beautiful girls, but Midori is too far away of the "complexity" of her character. The fact that she is always smiling when Naoko has her dark moments doesn´t say anything at all. Simplistic justifications, simplistic and naïve love stories when Toru´s relationship with both Naoko and Midori and even with life itself was much more complex. Oh, and I will not even mention Reiko that simple and totally loses all her importance here.
Shallow chords and a trivial course.
*I just got a PDF copy of the English translation and now I can say with conviction that no, it´s not that different from the one I read. Those who think that the film is faithful to the book, or did not read it or really don´t have any sense of anything.
** The Beatle´s Norwegian Wood was Naoko´s favorite song that Reiko only played when she asked her to because the song put Naoko very sad.