A luxuriant Sirkian weepie of grandiose proportions and extended duration, “Sayonara Itsuka” will exhaust the patience of ardent melodrama fans even as it pleases their teary eyes. Pic, which opened to solid Japanese biz in January, reps a high-profile tilt toward the Nipponese market by Korean conglom CJ Entertainment. Prospects look most promising in Thailand, where the story is partially set, and on CJ’s home turf.
Torn between lust and duty to his rich, conservative fiancee (Yuriko Ishida), ambitious salaryman Yutaka Higashigaito (Hidetoshi Nishijima, stiff) indulges in an affair with sexy free spirit Touko Manaka (Miho Nakayama, convincing) while being transferred to the Bangkok office of the airline he works for. Following his previous meller, “A Moment to Remember” (2004), helmer John H. Lee maintains a credible but detached approach to the genre, but is a long way from his 1999 crimer debut, “The Cut Runs Deep.” Nakayama’s strong perf elicits the most sympathy, but both she and her wooden co-star stretch credulity when their characters reach their twilight years. Kim Cheon-seok’s lensing impresses with its widescreen opulence; the syrupy score is likewise unrestrained. Other tech credits are top-quality.