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Piecing Me Back Together - Movie Poster
Original Title:

Japan 2010

Drama, Romance

Itsumichi Isomura

Keiko Kitagawa
Nene Ohtsuka
Masaki Okada
Motoki Fukami
Wakana Chisaki
Yoshikazu Matsumoto
Misa Shimizu
Eiko Nagashima
Tomorowo Taguchi

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Piecing Me Back Together

Story: Izumi (Keiko Kitagawa) is the sole survivor of an accident her boyfriend Junichi (Masaki Okada) lost his life in. After she has recovered from her physical wounds she now has to cope with the accident mentally. A psychiatrist is supposed to help her with that, but Izumi first and foremost wants to remember what happened exactly. Her psychiatrist tells her that a part of her refuses to remember the events as they have been too gruesome for her to bear and that she needs some more time. In her desperation she approaches the lawyer Makiko (Nene Otsuka) who she asks to help her recapitulate the accident. Izumi is still racked with guilt because she is the only survivor and something within denies her access to her memories which she wants to bring to light. While Izumi keeps trying to find her way back into everyday life the lawyer carries together a few new facts that might help Izumi to remember the last minutes of her boyfriend.

Review: Contrary to the Korean counterparts Japanese dramas revolving around love and loss oftentimes have a more profound approach to the matter and refrain from featuring unnecessary dead weight like corny moments full of tears. The same goes for "Piecing Me Back Together". No terminal illness is to be blamed for severing two people this time but a tragical accident. However, for a drama that especially aims at illuminating the characters, and rightly should do so, it turns out that they in fact aren't fleshed out that well. Being a subtle drama in its core the movie also should have been more reserved in depicting certain dramatic scenes, because some of them are conveyed with everything but the required sensitiveness, instead they seem heavy-handed, which especially applies to the finale.

For Izumi things center around the loss she suffered but also around her memories which a part of has been robbed. Unfortunately, the thief is no one else but herself. The girl at some point needs to let go, but that's impossible as long as she doesn't know what happened that day. There are many unpleasant speculations, because since her brain denies her access to those events, she probably had to witness some gruesome things. Only in fragments does she regain her memory but the most important ones are still missing. Analogous to the somewhat mixed up memories of Izumi the drama is told on two different levels as well. Time and again we see Izumi's past and her relationship with her boyfriend through flashbacks. Strangely enough, her relationship lacks a bit of emotional warmth.

"Piecing Me Back Together" is also a bit cold in other scenes. While this works very well in the more subtle scenes, it seems rather hindering in the depiction of Izumi and Junichi, even though we can understand the grief of the girl. However, too often the movie doesn't know where to go next. Izumi desperately asks herself why she denies herself to remember the accident, but it's just this kind of process she is in need of in order to come to terms with the sorrow she is suffering. Without knowing it her body takes the time it needs to cope with the traumatic experience. This actually becomes a bit tedious, but when the girl calls in the lawyer the film for a short time at least gets a pretty thrilling boost.

It resembles detective work what Makiko accomplishes and to follow the lawyer piecing the puzzle together is pretty captivating, but this is just a small part of the film. "Piecing Me Back Together" takes too much time to tell its story, which is based on a novel by Ren Kawahara, but luckily there is also an additional story thread around the lawyer and her sister, which she hasn't seen for years, as she blames herself to have caused the accident that disfigured her face. The two female protagonists eventually support each other and that's where the film manages to score, especially since the two actresses can shine a little bit more during those moments. That is since all too often the acting of the two is rather cold.

Sadly, the main problem of the drama remains that, despite everything else, we don't get to see anything new. The insight we get isn't as profound as we expected, the characters remain a bit unelaborated and should have been explored better and the finale drags on too much with its (intentionally?) awkward depiction. At the very end the film fortunately refrains from making use of the worst kitsch, still it remains questionable why the movie had to end with a freeze-frame like an episode from a cheap drama series. "Piecing Me Back Together" has nice ambitions, but wastes too much time with negligible stuff and at the bottom line lacks inventiveness.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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