Director: Yoshihiro Mori
Writer: Ryô Takada
Starring: Mirai Moriyama, Sairi Itoh, Masahiro Higashide, Sumire, Atsushi Shinohara, Yuko Oshima, and Masato Haiwara
We Couldn’t Become Adults is a reflective film, that shows a forty-six-year-old man looking back on his life and reliving the events that led him to where he is now. It’s a yearning for time lost, an idea that runs through all of our lives. It’s in our nature that we all have an obsession with looking back at better times and yearning to relive them. It’s why things like Stranger Things are so massive, because it plays on nostalgia.
Makoto Sato (Mirai Moriyama) works at a graphics company, that produces the graphics for various TV shows. It’s 2020, during the pandemic and Makoto runs into an old friend on a night out, that leads him to recollect his life. The lost love that he never quite got over, the people he’s fallen out of contact with and the dreams that were never quite achieved.
The film starts in the present, with Makoto trying to help his friend who is struggling with depression, it then moves backwards through time, showing key moments in Makoto’s life. Each year that the story touches on gets it’s own chapter title, that gives a feeling of what the year is about. There are good moments, and bad moments, but through it all is a sense of melancholy because you already know where things are going.
The key plot revolves around Makoto’s first true love, Kaori Kato (Sairi Itoh). In the late 1990s, their relationship blossomed, and Makoto would do anything for her. You first see the fallout from their breakup and then the break-up itself, which is described very early on. She left him on New Year’s Day 2000, without a reason, just saying ‘next time, I’ll bring the CDs’. The lack of closure haunts Makoto, so when you go back and see the beginnings of their relationship it’s diluted with sadness. The way the film plays with time, and how you feel it’s doomed before it starts, feels very reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Both films give you a picture of an almost perfect relationship, but you know the ending before you see the good moments.
The film is really downbeat with lots of dark moments. Makoto’s relationship with his next partner is stained by his past. He can never truly commit, resulting in him being left again. He’s not a bad person, or treats people poorly, but he’s not able to move on with his life. As the title suggests, he’s never really grown up beyond his first love.
The way the film plays with time is done in a really clever way. There are so many moments that make more sense as the film goes on, and seeing the context, but at the same time you’re never lost in the narrative. It’s always easy to follow and understand. It feels like one of the those films you could watch multiple times and get a better understanding each time.
We Couldn’t Become Adults is a sombre look at how the past affects us long after events have happened. It’s something that feels very relatable and has moments that leave you with a dark feeling inside. This is something that will stay with you for a long time.
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