Review: ‘Heaven’s Bookstore’

A lushly lensed love story, "Heaven's Bookstore" mixes adolescent fantasy with quietly provocative philosophy for an alternately engaging and frustrating experience that probably won't live past the fest circuit.

A lushly lensed love story, “Heaven’s Bookstore” mixes adolescent fantasy with quietly provocative philosophy for an alternately engaging and frustrating experience that probably won’t live past the fest circuit.

“Shine” meets “Ghost” in handsomely crafted tale of twentysomething Kenta (Tetsuji Tamayama), a classical pianist who looks more like an alt-rocker. He wakes up and finds himself restocking the shelves in a strange bookshop where people take turns reading their favorite poems. Eventually, he finds out he’s not dead, just dead drunk, and in limbo until heaven decides what to do with him. People get a hundred years on Earth, you see, and if they die before they get to 100, they can use the extra years up there. Anyway, Kenta wants to stick around when he meets a beautiful woman who inspired him when he was a child. Yuko Takeuchi plays the moody beauty and also plays the musician’s niece, in a parallel tale back on Earth about teenagers trying to revive a rural tradition involving fireworks. Pic could use some of those, as there’s more navel-gazing than real romance, and copious piano music is more Mantovani than Mozart.

Heaven's Bookstore

Japan

Production

A Shochiku production. (International sales: Shochiku, Tokyo.) Produced by Hideshi Miyajimi, Nozumu Enoki, Noboyuki Toya. Directed by Tetsuo Shinohara. Screenplay, Shinohara, Kyoko Inukai, based on a series of novels by Hisaatsu Matsu, Wataru Tanaka.

Crew

Camera (color), Shogo Ueno; editor, Shinohara; music, Masataka, Yumi Matsutoy. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival (Gala), Oct. 28, 2004. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Yuko Takeuchi, Tetsuji Tamayama, Teruyuki Kagawa, Hirofumi Arai, Karina.
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