Review: ‘The Cherry Orchard – Blossoming’

Russian theater gets double-checked by Japanese schoolgirls looking to rebel against authority in the stiff lesbian-themed Nipponese meller "The Cherry Orchard -- Blossoming."

Russian theater gets double-checked by Japanese schoolgirls looking to rebel against authority in the stiff lesbian-themed Nipponese meller “The Cherry Orchard — Blossoming.” Promoted domestically as Shun Nakahara’s remake of his own “The Cherry Orchard” (1990), pic is actually an echoing sequel about girls at a different school trying to overcome thwarted legit ambitions. Pretty pic is unlikely to impress auds beyond a small, arty-minded distaff niche. Fests hoping to draw older, bookish auds may consider, but gay-themed events will find this too quaintly restrained.

Rebellious creative type Momo (Saki Fukuda) is transferred to a prestigious all-girls school and tries to revive a production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” which prompted a scandal years before. Pic’s theme of artistic transgression by its heterosexual protag is mostly a metaphor for the subtly suggested lesbianism of some fellow students. Exquisite lensing by Koichi Ishii takes full advantage of cherry blossom sequences and the beauty of pic’s cast. Unfortunately, Fukuda is more model than actor, and she’s unable to help the lofty but engaging enough script transcend the limitations of Nakahara’s rigid helming. Tech credits are immaculate.

The Cherry Orchard – Blossoming

Japan

Production

A "The Cherry Orchard – Blossoming" Film Partners production. (International sales: Shochiku Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Naoya Narita, Fumitsugu Ikeda, Hiroyuki Akimoto. Executive producer, Seiichi Koga, Teruki Matsumoto. Directed by Shun Nakahara. Screenplay, Erika Seki, based on the manga by Akemi Yoshida.

Crew

Camera (color), Koichi Ishii; editor, Nobuko Tomita; music, Kenji Kawai; production designer, Hisao Inagaki. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Special Screenings), Oct. 21, 2008. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Saki Fukuda, Saki Terishima, Anne, Yuko Oshima, Haneyuri, Emi Takei.

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