Director: Yoshihiro Fukagawa
Writer: Tomoko Yoshida
Starring: Kento Nakajima and Honoka Matsumoto
Based on the of the same name by Keisuke Uyama, Love Like the Falling Petals is a tragic romance that’s available on Netflix. It follows the story of an aspiring photographer Haruto (Kento Nakajima) who falls in love with his hairdresser, Misaki (Honoka Matsumoto). Their romance burns brightly and quickly as Misaki is diagnosed with progeroid, which causes her to age incredibly quickly. Not wanting Haruto to see her she breaks up with him and their lives start to drift apart.
The opening of this film lulls you into a false sense that this is going to be a light-hearted rom-com. Haruto and Misaki are both quirky and oddball characters who almost instantly hit it off. Between every hair appointment Haruto spends time studying Misaki’s likes, doing things like rewatching her favourite movie over and over, so he has something to talk about with her. He then turns during an appointment to ask her out, and she slices his ear lobe off. The first thirty or so minutes are full of fun and offbeat moments. After that though, the tone completely changes.
At first Misaki is just ill with a fever, and you think nothing more of it, then she goes to the hospital after extreme pain during the night. The film stops being funny and cutesy and instead maintains a deeply sombre feel for the rest of the over two hour runtime. It’s a heartbreaing story to watch that doesn’t pull any emotional punches. It’s a complete tearjerker.
Both of the leads are absolutely fantastic, with great chemistry between them. They feel like real people and you really get to know them. Their relationship feels real. It’s not perfect but you can feel the connection they share. Misaki completely motivates Haruto to follow his dreams and take photos. They bring the best out in each other. Misaki’s brother is also a great character. He’s beyond overprotective of her since their parents died, and shows a lot of distrust towards Haruto.
Almost everything in this film is designed to make you as emotional as possible. The schmaltzy sentimental opening, through each dramatic and tragic plot beat all the way up to the gut punch of an ending. Kento Nakajima carries the emotional weight perfectly towards the end. It may be a predictable story once it gets going, but it’s masterfully played out.
Love Like the Falling Petals is a life affirming love story. It’s captivating to watch, with two excellent performances from the leads. Something that shouldn’t be lost in the Netflix shuffle.
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