Story: Ogasawara Aki (Takeru Satoh) is the songwriter of the band Crude Play. Originally, he was the bassist of the band as well, but when record
company boss Takagi (Takashi Sorimachi) signed the group and told them that their songs would be played by professional musicians and they would only have
to do playback, Aki wanted to be replaced by Shinya (Masataka Kubota). His old friends are extremely successful as Crude Play and Aki writes one hit after
the other. When he leaves his girlfriend Mari (Saki Aibu), who is having an affair with Takagi, he becomes even more depressive and lost than he already was.
One day, schoolgirl Riko Koeda (Sakurako Ohara) hears the composer humming a song at a river and she falls in love with him at first sight. Aki agrees to the
relationship even though he isn't truely interested in Riko. However, he likes the thought to have a girlfriend who doesn't work in the music business. For
this reason he also keeps silent about his true identity and forbids her to sing. This is actually difficult for Riko since she has a small band herself and
is an extraordinary singer, who soon gets scouted by Takagi...
Review: Once again I mustered up all my courage and saw a romantic movie based on a shojo manga, which is the genre aimed at girls in their
teens if you weren't already aware of that. And once again I was positively surprised. "The Liar and his Lover" is certainly not that corny as you might assume
and the characters are also written everything but shallow. Furthermore, there is also a lot of music in the movie, mainly in the shape of ballads. But even
here you get high quality stuff. This music-centered romantic flick also scores with the fact that not all emotions are shown in all their ridiculousness,
but every now and then are hidden behind silence or gazes. Therefore, as is common in Japanese culture, you also have to see behind the curtain, which makes
the movie more subtle than you are used to from such genre works.
Still not too subtle, though. After all, there are also one or two tears that are shed and the lyrics of some ballads also leave no doubt about the love motive
of the picture. Aki's character makes you already doubt that you get a typical romantic flick here, though. His melancholy which characterizes him, his
existential crisis and his emotional state, which even needs to be called depressive, as well as his first reaction to his encounter with Riko, during which
he shares with us in a monologue that he doesn't have any feelings for the girl, arouse our interest and make the story deviate from the course of a typical
romance. Particularly when we are sure that the drama will eventually center around Aki's lie being uncovered, leading to the whole relationship falling
apart, but then the revealed truth is handled very unceremoniously, it turns out that we can expect a lot more from the plot.
It's a fact that you can make out that "The Liar and his Lover" has its origin in a several volumes long story. However, this is not because the film appears
to be episodic. No, not at all. It's more that the story has more twists and turns than what you would expect from a normal screenplay. And there are also a lot
more characters who all serve their purpose. Unfortunately, they mostly have been reduced to be merely that, serving their purpose in the script's machinery.
For more there simply hasn't been enough room. That's a shame since Shinya in particular is supposed to work as something like a villain or at least an
antagonist, yet we barely get to know enough about him for us to start getting interested in his background story. It's similar when it comes to Mari. And
Takagi also seems to have a more complex personality than what we get to see in the 117 minutes.
Takeru Satoh ("Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends", "If
Cats Disappeared from the World") delivers a reserved performance, yet every now and then breaks out of it skillfully. Aki may seem somewhat cold at times,
but we soon realize that this is some sort of self-protection since he actually is a very emotional guy. This is especially reflected in the music. The music is
implemented into the movie in the shape of a few ballads and works out pretty well. The songs are pleasant and by far not just composed for teenagers.
All in all, the story is quite mature, too. In parts, this also includes the ending, which more or less comes in two versions. Either you watch the movie
only to the credits or you wait until they have rolled over the screen in order to watch an extra scene which is supposed to be the actual ending or
for some maybe just stands as an alternative version.
Sakurako Ohara has been chosen for the role of Riko among 5000 candidates. She masters her debut without any problems. Acting-wise she embodies the teenager aspect believable and also seems rather mature for her age. She can impress the most with her singing, though. Sometimes Aki's cautiousness creates a certain distance between the two lovers, but this also takes away some of the story's kitsch and even makes the feelings seem more natural. The movie deserves some special points for not adding unnecessary drama at the end, as is for example the case in the also music-centered romantic flick "Your Lie in April". There may be numerous obstacles to overcome and at times they are also a bit far-fetched, but for most part the movie stays true to its tone, which is after all a mix of the feeling of first love, but also heartache. You certainly need to be able to endure a little bit of melancholy here, even though it is carried in an easily digestable manner. Therefore, it's no wonder that the manga by Kotomi Aoki has also been used as the basis for a Korean drama series in 2017.