If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
Director: Toshiaki Toyoda
1 Hour 23 Minutes
REVIEW BY JEREMIAH
Blue Spring is devastating. Amplifying the angst-filled emotion which propels much of the high school drama contained within, the film whiplashes the viewer from contention to contention, promising a dizzying and highly turbulent cinematic experience.
A group of a run-down Tokyo high school students face the struggles of growing up, growing apart from their friends and worrying about their future, while living in a highly violent environment.
I'll be honest, I struggle to put into words the affecting nature of this film. There's this overbearing sense of desperation, misguided anger, and muted cry for help that add up to create an incredibly bleak atmosphere. I wanted nothing more than to jump through my set and give the troubled youth a hug, or provide some kind of positive affirmation. With the exception of perhaps Mame Yamada's Hanada, it never happens, and Kujo, Aoki, Yukio, Yoshimura and Ota are ultimately left to their vices. Fist fights, bullying, vandalism, bludgeoning the freshman, and in some cases, even murder. The high school becomes a prison rather than an educational institution, and the entire presentation absolutely reeks of the same kind of mean-spiritedness permeating a lot of films which arrived turn of the century. As a result, I love Blue Spring all the more.
There's not much to be said in the way of negatives either, with most issues coming as a result of the film's brief run time. Perhaps some of the emotional beats would have landed even harder than they did had more time been spent on the relationships within the dominating high school gang, specifically between Kujo and Aoki. Given much of the turmoil captured is a direct result of the power struggle between the two youths, it would have been nice to see a bit more of their history prior to all the attempts at usurping. But even so, the point is well made (Aoki defines his self worth through a vapid and ugly social pecking order, something his disillusioned "leader" Kujo never actually wanted to be a part of—and that breaks him). All performances are delivered believably, if a bit over the top at times (a result of its adaptation of Taiyō Matsumoto's manga perhaps) and it all plays out to an absolutely killer punk soundtrack (Thee Michelle Gun Elephant's work here is a total earworm); it's as suitable as it gets.
If you're looking for a nasty bit of heart-breaking nihilistic cinema, something that calls back to a bit of troubling nostalgia, I can't recommend Toshiaki Toyoda's Blue Spring and its darkly told coming of age story enough. Fitting in has never been so painful.
YOU CAN PURCHASE A DVD OR BLU-RAY COPY DIRECTLY FROM THIRD WINDOW FILMS:
all images are copyright of their respective owner and third window films. Thirteenth Floor does not own the rights to the review media contained here in.