When Asako’s first love suddenly disappears, she’s given a chance to relive her romance two years later when she meets his perfect double, in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Palme d’Or–nominated romantic drama.
Contemporary World Cinema
Asako I & II
A film on the mundane magic of falling in love, Asako I & II is the brilliant screen adaptation of Tomoka Shibasaki’s bestselling novel, Netemo Sametemo.
When Asako (Erika Karata), a shy student from Osaka, meets Baku (Masahiro Higashide) at a photo exhibition, it’s love at first sight: a mystical experience erasing the world around them — akin to a curse. Baku is a mysterious and gorgeous-looking young man. He likes to disappear when the mood strikes him; one day he’s gone for good.
Two years later, Asako, now working as a server in a Tokyo coffee shop, spots Ryohei (also Higashide). A young employee at a company that produces sake, he looks exactly like Baku, to the point that Asako is convinced she’s finally found her lost lover. Ryohei may look like Baku but he is a very different person: he has no secrets, he is honest and kind-hearted and will love Asako with a faithful, protective love, destined to last forever — the kind of love that’s so reassuring it might even be scary.
In the minute description of everyday life, shaken by epochal events like the Fukushima earthquake, or in the perfect rendering of Asako’s hesitations and uncertainty, Ryusuke Hamaguchi shows here his signature filmmaking: beautifully composed, radiance-breathing takes. Asako I & II confirms him as one of the most original filmmakers in contemporary Asian cinema, an auteur who has assimilated the Japanese filmmaking tradition, bringing it to a new level with his inimitable style and personal sensibility.