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Original Title:
SuwÓto rein: Shinigami no seido

Japan 2008

Genre:
Drama, Fantasy

Director:
Masaya Kakei

Cast:
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Manami Konishi
Takuya Ishida
Ken Mitsuishi
Junko Fuji
Erika Okuda
Jun Murakami
Mitsuru Fukikoshi


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Sweet Rain

aka Accuracy of Death

Story: Chiba (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a Grim Reaper. His task is to visit some chosen individuals seven days before their death and decide, if they have already fulfilled their purpose on earth and can step off the stage of life or not. This time he has to evaluate Kazue Fujiki (Manami Konishi), who leads an unlucky life, and who seems to be ill-starred since everyone around her dies. Furthermore, she is also stalked by someone at her working place.
Years later Chiba has yakuza boss Fujita (Ken Mitsuishi) as a new "client". Fujita is sold out by Akutsu (Takuya Ishida), one of his subordinates, to a rivaling boss, but Akutsu soon has a guilty conscience because of it, especially since Fujita always treats him like a little brother. However, if Fujita lives or dies remains for Chiba to decide...
Another few years have passed and Chiba now has to take care of an old lady (Junko Fuji), who works as a barber. This woman for some odd reasons knows what Chiba really is and asks him to help her fulfill her last wish...

Review: "Sweet Rain" has a nice, even though not really inventive story, asks some essential questions about life and feautures Takeshi Kaneshiro in the main lead. This alone is enough to make this fantasy drama worthwhile. Especially Kaneshiro as a Grim Reaper can score some extra points. His infantile naivity and jauntiness, the slight melancholy running through his character, as well as the natural charisma of his make Chiba someone we can easily weave an emotional bond to. That is even the more surprising as his character itself remains quite shallow. Therefore it's safe to say that the movie's success in emotionally involving the viewer is mainly the effort of Kaneshiro.
However, "Sweet Rain" is still a little disappointment as a whole, as the film is lacking something extraordinary. Instead we get a little, but likeable movie, from which you can draw the most for yourself when you don't approach it with high expectations.

Based on the novel of Kotaro Isaka director Masaya Kakei unfortunately missed to create his world as three-dimensional as we would have wished for, as there are certain details lacking. It's nice to look at, nevertheless. Most of all, this is thanks to the cinematography, which is quite appealing and every now and then is supported by some special effects. The intermediate world, from which Chiba enters our world through a different door every time, is one example, but Kazue's flashback which is introduced by display window drawings coming to life, will stick to you the most.
The slightly melancholic mood is also conveyed by the constant rain in the movie. Every time Chiba comes to earth it starts raining, which means that he never before has seen a blue sky. Yet, this is nothing generally applying to Grim Reapers, it solely is the case with Chiba for some reason.

Moreover, Chiba is often accompanied by a dog, which communicates with him via a certain sound, that is translated by some subtitles. His "partner" informs him about his tasks and furthermore gives the viewer the information that Chiba has never let anyone live on before. We also get to know from the other Grim Reapers, which Chiba runs into on several occasion throughout the film, that they prefer to create some nice last days for their "victims" before their demise. But all of this doesn't matter much to Chiba, the only thing he cares about and which makes him seem human is his love for music, no matter what kind of. He even goes as far as to claim that- it is mankinds greatest invention, and he actually might have a point. However, even if you might get the impression that Chiba has a rather cold character, his naivity and jauntiness bestows a certain warmth and charisma upon him, which makes him seem very human.

Every time Chiba comes to earth he takes on a different role. Nevertheless, he also manages to remain loyal to his actual character, which isn't that easy when taking into account that Chiba hasn't that many characteristics, anyway. It's truely impressive what Takeshi Kaneshiro ("The Warlords", "Returner") delivers acting-wise and you can't say often enough that without him the film would have been only half as good. That is also because he is the only person we can relate to, since "Sweet Rain" is divided into three parts. At first we might think that Kazue's story is heading for your obligative romance between the Grim Reaper and her, but then there is a sudden cut to a yakuza story. However, all stories share the same jauntiness, which mainly sticks out with an all-apparent and pleasent humor. Through the three stories the image of Chiba gains a more and more clear outline and only through his interaction with other people we get to know him better.

Later on it shows that the three stories are actually linked. But this is something we could figure out by ourselves as there are enough hints scattered throughout the film. So there are no real surprises here. It's even somewhat irritating that the movie's resolution is preluded by so much roll of drums, as there is no actual turnup as we can see the "great" twist miles in advance.
"Sweet Rain" illuminates what "life" is about in a small scale, and even if we don't get any fantastic new answers, the director was still successful to involve the audience and to move it every now and then. Yet, some discontent remains in our hearts in the end, as we somehow hoped for a little bit more. That is because (and here I'm somewhat citing the old barber) the film's message is important, but not extraordinary. In the end, "Seet Rain" is a movie that can make you smile, but won't reside in you mind for too long.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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