On the occasion of the release of’ETERNITY’, a film adaptation of the book Alice Ferney elegance of widows (see our column), we wanted to get back on the filmography of its director, the French-vietnamese Tran Anh Hung. All the more that his fifth film, THE BALLAD OF The IMPOSSIBLE is also an adaptation of a novel – the namesake, Haruki Murakami.

The Ballad of the impossible therefore, was the best of the characters and their epiphanies. Following his protagonist Watanabe, the book narrait its interactions with a few women (and one man), that his presence yet an observer, removed and remote, always ended up affecting so catastrophic. There were several climax during which these characters épanchaient length, resulting in a report reflective of their tumultuous past. Watanabe, as a receptacle of these faiths, turpitude and regret, constructed in this collision of experiences which he is in spite of him, the point of convergence, a personality, strong feelings, and an apprehension of the complexity of the world and of the individuals that construct it.

Although sociologically, culturally and temporally distant from us (The Ballad of the impossible , is rooted in the Japan of the 60’s in the midst of the cultural revolution, student, and political), the book gradually becomes beautiful as something universal, to resound… Is this the poetry watermark reflecting the aspirations of the human soul to reconcile love, self-awareness and reality of the world ? Or these deep thoughts on life born from the trivial, the everyday, and of these tiny things that shape tragic destinies ? Or this way to appeal to our memories, regrets and fantasies about the “other” revolting ?

Either way and regardless of the reception of each, let’s say it immediately : the film, Tran Anh Hung is considerably far away from the pleasure (the untranslatable to the screen) felt gradually to the reading of the book.

In accordance to his style, TAH translated by the realization of his own idea of the emotions of the characters. Melancholy and love, therefore, which go almost exclusively by this famous delicacy of the treatment that he applied to date in genres as distinct as the chronicle naturalist of moments of lives of vietnamese (The scent of Green Papaya and the vertical of the summer), or these thrillers and urban patients that are Cyclo and I come with the rain.

THE BALLAD OF The IMPOSSIBLE is thus an object technically powerful and undeniably delicate, crossed by some very strong emotions (sensuality, enchantment, wonder), corresponding to as many of the ideas of achievement, and which one will retain especially the crazy freedom of the camera in its executives or its movements, the use of organic sound (wind, rain, noise of nature) as an indicator of emotions buried, the staging of women and their beauty, or even this thorough reconstitution of the atmosphere of the Japan of the 60’s prey to the inroads of western culture. In sum, a unique fragrance emanates from this exotic story of impossible love, and the feeling of being immersed in one of these dizzying and decisive moments or builds the personality of a man, in the indecision and lack of understanding of the female figure.

“an adaptation that is very far from its original material, where Tran Anh Hung continues its approach of the author seeking the brilliance and dreams from a story, yet very practical – even if that means losing the viewer (or reader) who has not been warned”

On the other hand, it is difficult to completely validate this total freedom from the constraints of understanding and readability of the story in which are supposed to register the characters… A bit like in I come with the rain, it does not include the tracking script, or the actions of the characters, nor the purpose of the story. That is what is going on in the head of Naoko? What is the content of this “recluse”? That is truly Reiko ? That is what can lead Watanabe to [SPOIL] [spoiler mode=”inline”]sleep with her[/spoiler]?… Having read the book, then, is the only way to understand – very factually, because sensorially it works – which may encourage such interaction, lead to such and such a tragedy.

For example, in the book, Watanabe and Midori spend a long afternoon together, the opportunity to many discoveries. By observation, a neighbourhood, a universe of socio-family, poor but culturally rich… Then, by the dialogue one-sided, Midori to Watanabe, a personality built on contradictions, feelings. Finally, by the contact, it is a body that unfolds. Outside, this long-time literary concludes with an apotheosis as succinctly as significant, it switches to the screen by a scene silent, barely a minute showing the protagonists walk together, to look at themselves, they are not alone, and then kissing. The dialogue and empathy to build the relationship in the book, when only the charm of Midori/Kiko Mizuhara, conveyed by the staging, is used in the film. Is this enough to seal the fate of two characters ? It will be advisable for everyone to make his or her own opinion, but it seemed to us that it is not validated that distantly the events that we will witness in the following film. By extension, the ideas yet strong love and death can seem overblown in the film, because it never really justified by the story, and not based not on empathy for the characters… And even more that supported and influenced by the pervasive soundtrack orchestral.

It is then necessary to know as a spectator, surrendering completely to this level of play going exclusively by the sensoriality, and accept a translation of the depth of book in a more superficial but troubling by his melancholy and sensuality.

This film adaptation of The ballad of the impossible we have thus disconcerted, one is entitled to wonder what it will be d’ETERNITY, adapted by Tran Anh Hung after the elegance of The widows. We had found in the writing of our chronicle of the book, as it is closer to the obsessions of the director for the female figures, and share this fascination for the intériorisations translated by the staging (a unique structure in the book, a way to catch the inexpressible by the sensor in the developer).

THE BALLAD OF The IMPOSSIBLE-the film suggests the possibility of an adaptation that is very far from its original material, purely aesthetic, almost inaccessible as it requires a certain let-go sensory, and where Tran Anh Hung would continue its approach of the author seeking the brilliance and dreams from a story, yet very practical – even if that means losing the viewer (or reader) who has not been warned.




Original title : Noruwei No Mori

Achievement : Tran Anh Hung

Screenplay : Tran Anh Hung, after LaBallade of the impossible Haruki Murakami

Main actors : Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara

Country of origin : France, Japan

Released : may 4, 2011

Duration : 2h13min

Distributor : Pretty Pictures


Tokyo, end of the years 60. Kizuki, the best friend of Watanabe, committed suicide. Watanabe then leaves Kobe and moves to Tokyo to start his university studies. While a little everywhere, the students revolt against the institutions, the life of Watanabe, too, is upset when he meets Naoko, the former girlfriend of Kizuki. Fragile and folded in on herself, Naoko has not yet overcome the death of Kizuki. Watanabe and Naoko spend Sundays together and on the evening of the 20th anniversary of Naoko, they make love. But the next day, she disappears without a trace. Watanabe seems to put his life on the suspension since the loss unexplained of this first love. When he finally receives a letter from Naoko, he has barely met Midori, a beautiful, funny and bright who only ask to offer him his love.






Click on the image to view the critical

The scent of green papaya (★★★★★)

“A cinema of the stimulation sensitivity, as we like !”

Cyclo (★★★★☆)

“A social cinema and ultra-immersive, a film that is more masculine but still sensitive”
To the vertical of the summer (★★★★☆)

“A mapping of the feeling of love through the stories, sensitive and delicate of the three couples”

I come with the rain (★★★☆☆)

“A polar sick and fascinating, sublimated as much as ravaged by her attraction to melancholy, violence, and religion”

The Ride of the impossible (★★★☆☆)

“an adaptation that is very far from its original material, where Tran Anh Hung continues its approach of the author seeking the brilliance and dreams from a story, yet very practical – even if that means losing the viewer (or reader) who has not been warned “

Eternity (★★★★☆)

A fantastic adaptation of the original book which is tail-coat in the continuity of the previous work of Tran Anh Hung… Awesome but, in short, almost inaccessible

The elegance of the widows (★★★★☆)

“Tran Anh Hung and Alice Ferney share this love of the portrait of a lady, and this ability to give shape to the aspirations of female

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