Being an introvert sucks. Period point blank. It is difficult to excel in this world without actively cultivating relationships. Mixing and mingling. And while I can do that online without an issue, in person, I tend to shut down a bit, and I’d rather head home to watch a movie. I can be outgoing and gregarious on Twitter, but meet me in person and I’ll stammer over words. And in A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE, poor Nanami suffers from my same plight.
Having met Tetsuya online, Nanami, a part-time school teacher and successful blogger, feels like she’s found the perfect match for her. Tetsuya is a handsome, driven person, who also happens to be a school teacher. They both teach at the high school level. And while Tetsuya is revered by fellow faculty and his students, Nanami instead is mocked by her students, who provide her a microphone in order for them to hear her timid voice.
As the couple prepare for their upcoming nuptials, Nanami is ashamed that her family only consists of her separated parents, estranged from all others. While Tetsuya’s family is large, affluent and influential, she feels the growing pressure to fabricate a family to appease and impress her soon to be in-laws. Her blog contacts work out as she’s referred to an agent that can hire people to pose as family for instances such as this. That agent is an actor named Amuro, immediately charming and manipulative, he quicky convinces Nanami to hire on his services.
Similar to David Fincher’s early film THE GAME, once we pass this point, it becomes impossible to determine who in Nanami’s life is legitimately that way or if they are an actor under Amuro’s employ. Eventually, as Nanami finds herself in need of extra work, she is convinced to participate in a wedding as a faux family member where she meets the attractive and alluring Mashiro. Mashiro is another actress “in nothing you’ve likely seen” but enjoys the finer things in life. She takes Nanami under her wing in order to break the caged bird of her soul free.
Considering how the film is very tethered to the real world, with nary a fantastical effect or science fiction gizmo, A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE is a truly effective drama and character piece that will leave you questioning your reality. Tying in scenes using hidden cameras, we get unique views where we would normally expect just a simple two-shot.
Given the great character work from all involved, my chief complaint about the film is it’s length. While there isn’t a lot of wasted time on screen, it feels that a few sub stories could have been excised to trim the running time down from it’s 3 hours.
A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE opens in cinemas November 10th from Eleven Arts. Break out of your shell and go see it! For ticketing information, please visit www.elevenarts.net/ripvanwinkle
Nanami: Haru Kuroki (WOLF CHILDREN, THE LITTLE HOUSE)
Tetsuya: Gô Jibiki (UNITED RED ARMY, CATERPILLAR)
Amuro: Gô Ayano (RAGE, THE LIGHT ONLY SHINES THERE)
Mashiro: Cocco (KOTOKO, VITAL)
Writer/Director: Shunji Iwai (NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU)