I don’t know if I should recommend this movie or not, I liked it however something was missing from the whole movie’s composition. Somehow, I feel like it took me forever to finish ‘The Great Passage’, it had so many unnecessary moments which if the director were to leave aside, the movies could’ve been way better – or at least that’s my point of view on the whole thing….
The movie ‘The Great Passage’ takes place during the beginning of the ’90 and tells the story of Majime Mitsuya (Matsuda Ryuhei), an introverted sales man who becomes a member of a dictionary edit team. The team is ordered to put together a dictionary that will contain the modern words of Japanese people, simply the greatest passage. However because writing the dictionary requires to understand the words by applying them to your own life, Majime faces a wall when he has to interact with his team mates, considering his rather shy and introverted personality. As time passes, he starts getting used to expressing himself, and grows closer towards Nishioka Masashi (Odagiri Joe) and the other team members.
One day, Majime, who lives together with his landowner Take (Watanabe Misako), meets granny Take’s granddaughter Hayashi Kaguya (Miyazaki Aoi). Slowly, although still shy and finding it difficult to deal with other people upfront, he starts growing feelings towards Kaguya. Since he got closer with Nishioka, Majime asks him to give advice on how to ask Kaguya out; considering that he is better with written words, Nishioka advices him to write her a letter, but Majime writes the love letter with a brush, making it difficult for Kaguya, and pretty much other people to read it. Even so Nishioka tells him to continue with the letter and give it to Kaguya, after all if the girl also has feelings for him, it won’t matter how hard to read the letter is, because she will try her best to read/understand it.
Because Kaguya couldn’t read/understand the letter written with a brush, she asks her mentor to try and read it for her, but it actually lead to an awkward situation since her mentor had to ‘decode’ a love letter for her…..aloud. Angered for going through an awkward situation, Kaguya goes straight home where Majime was waiting for her, curious if she did or did not read the letter. Still angered, she tells him not to use letters but to tell her his feelings through his voice and not paper.
Majime musters his courage and eventually tells Kaguya his true feelings, surprisingly for him, she also had the same feelings towards her.
After putting in place everything with Kaguya, Majime goes back to focusing on the dictionary, however shortly, it is found out that the editorial company wants to quits the ‘great passage’ since the computer and other electronics were starting to take the paper’s place. Determined to finish the dictionary, Majime and Nishioka decide to go around and tell news papers about the dictionary; therefore the higher ups won’t want to give up on the great passage. Fortunately the higher ups let them continue working on the ‘passage’…..with the exception of one of them quitting the team. Nishioka thinks that it will better for him to quit and move to another department, since Majime is an important member of the dictionary team.
Saddened about the sudden news, Majime tells Nishioka that he is also an important member of their team. Although Nishioka had to move to another department, he still helps the dictionary team with the great passage.
Time passed, and the dictionary has already 8 years of hard work, eventually as the team grows, ‘The Great Passage’ is completed.
My comments on the movie:
I loved the first half of the movie, it had everything witty moments, quirky, emotional moments, however the second half of the movie was dragged a lot. As I said it in the beginning of my post, from my point of view it could’ve been better, if the director left aside some moments. I mean, I do understand he tried to move towards a more artsy side, but there were too many moments where they showed the characters looking through books, dictionaries and doing a lot of proof reading – a lot of time was used only for this and the director could’ve cut out some.
All the actors did a great job with their characters, especially Matsuda Ruyhei with his character Majime. Matsuda successfully showed Majime’s change towards everything around him in a slow but realistic way, particularly when Majime had to interact with other people – maybe that’s what the movie was about, ‘the great passage’ towards changing yourself.
All in all I did liked the movie, but it left me with a feeling that too much is too much, to make a simple comparison, the movie is like a pie made of high quality products, but over baked. Maybe if ‘The Great Passage’ was a tv drama, the director and the screen writer would’ve had more time to express themselves and tells the story in a better way.
By the way, don’t let yourselves influenced by my post, different people have different opinions, therefore, although the movie left me a ‘something is lacking’ taste, other people may totally love it, so watch it and then judge.