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Days with You - Movie Poster
Original Title:

Japan 2008

Drama, Romance

Amiy Mori

Erika Toda
Kazuki Kato
Tatsuya Wakaba
Mitsuru Fukikoshi
Midoriko Kimura
Mami Kumagai

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Days with You

Story: Natsuki (Erika Toda) lives in a small sleepy rural town and takes care of her brother Daiki (Tatsuya Wakaba) who is autistic. After eleven years Sota (Kazuki Kato) is suddenly returning to town. He had immigrated to Canada with his parents. When they were little he, Natsuki and Daiki were inseparable, but at some point he broke ties with Natsuki. She still holds this against him and therefore is rather withdrawn near Sota. But through her brother he soon manages to win over her heart again. Just when it seems that the relationship between him and Natsuki is about to get more serious he tells the girl that he is going back to Tokyo. Natsuki is disappointed and angry. There seems to be no obvious reason for Sota's behavior, but when he leaves her high and dry during a date she follows up on things and finds out that he has a brain tumor. He already had an operation and seems to have a relapse again. Apparently he has come to his home town to visit his old friends one more time, because he doesn't want to undergo another operation.

Review: It has been a while since I last saw a bonafied drama made in Japan. The problem with "Days with You" is actually quite a simple one. The story has been told numerous times already. Accordingly, the movie is completely predictable for everyone who has already seen a drama of this kind and completely so until the very last minute. However, the movie deserves some praise as it supports its story with a nice atmosphere of a snow-covered rural town and for the fact that it isn't as obviously tear-jerking as other genre entries but instead tries to tell the drama story in a more mature manner. Still, the hospital visits towards the end are as genre-typical as the extremely uninventive choice of a tumor being responsible for separating the two lovers.

"Days with You" actually rehashes in 100 minutes what is the groundwork for a whole drama show. And yet the film at times feels unnecessarily stretched. Maybe that's also because too many scenes are simply woven according to well-known formula. Sota suddenly returns home and realizes that his childhood love Natsuki is still center of his attention. When he gets closer to her, despite her initial coldness, with which she tries to protect herself from further injuries and disappointments by him, he realizes that it might be a better idea to cut all ties to her as soon as possible in order to prevent her from suffering more later on as his health condition doesn't look too bright. But then again it is already too late for this and he actually can't just go without an explanation.

Thus, the introduction is rather lengthy and only has some diversity to it thanks to Daiki, Natsuki's brother, who is autistic and obessessed with stars und who after Sota's appearance starts to feel better again. The three friends from back then are reunited and good memories are collected. Of course only because, and this any attentive viewer will be quite aware of, this is how to bring some more sentimentality into the drama later on with some flashbacks. After the relationship between Natsuki and Sota has come to the point where the scriptwriter wanted it the girl naturally needs to find out about Sota's illness even though he tries to keep it a secret. And how does this happen? Naturally, Sota doesn't turn up for an important date as he just happens to collapse on his way there. Inventive? Nobody said that.

Unfortunately, things go on like this. The last third drags on a bit too much since we already know all too well how the story is about to be resolved in the end. How do we do that? As already said it's enough to have seen two or three similar movies of this kind in order to know how a drama like this is constructed. It may be possible to feel emotionally involved by "Days with You" if you are a newbie in the disease-of-the-week genre, but as a experienced viewer you can't help but to look at the watch with a yawn and hope that maybe some kind of suprise finds its way to the screen after all. In vain, natch... Will you be disappointed because of that? Not really, since the movie actually doesn't raise any hope to be more than just your average genre treat.

At least Erika Toda ("Death Note", "Nobuta wo Produce") can play her role well, Kazuki Kato on the other hand is rather cold. The characters aren't really developed in an interesting manner either, but they serve their purpose. However, what the drama deserves some credit for and what to some extent even saves it is that it presents certain facts in a pretty unspectacular way and doesn't make use of them to force some tears out of the viewer. Thanks to this "Days with You" also has something mature and laudable about it, which sadly is relativized at times by a soundtrack that doesn't always hit the right notes, especially the repititive use of a certain genre-typical ballad, and the emotional ending. Therefore, "Days with You" is only recommendable to those who just need their disease-of-the-week fix or who are new to the genre.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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