Friday, January 3, 2014

Cherry Blossoms (Kirschblüten - Hanami) (2008)

I'm trying to review films from 40 different countries, and the first one is from Germany.  Today's film is Cherry Blossoms.  It sounded interesting so I wanted to watch it.

It's the story of Trudi and Rudi, who not only have rhyming names but are married.  Rudi is a boring man who works at a waste management facility and lives for a routine.  The film opens up with doctors telling Trudi that her husband has a terminal illness without telling him.  They discover the illness by a scan but it never gives the reason why he went for the scan in the first place.  Also, the doctors never contact him and tell him the diagnosis or explain anything.  So, Trudi keeps the illness a secret from her own husband and demands to go visit the kids, the beach, and Japan, which she also inexplicably loves.

I don't know anything about ethics, but shouldn't doctors have to tell a patient a diagnosis?  Especially if he is a fully grown adult capable of making his own decisions?  At one point he does say that if he knew he were about to die, he'd still go to work and still come home, but I think that just means he's happy with his life.  Some people aren't travelers or adventure-seekers, he seems genuinely content with his simple life even though it seems dull to us.

The visiting scenes are exactly like Tokyo Story which I totally watched part of before I fell asleep.  But the real story starts after this part.  Trudi unexpectedly dies during the visit and Rudi is left alone and depressed.  She never fulfilled her lifelong dream of visiting Mount Fuji in Japan.  This reminded me of Up, where Ellie dies before she achieved her travel dreams.  I've had a dream since I was 17 to backpack across Iceland and I still haven't gone.  Movies like these are depressing because I want the characters to achieve their personal dreams but their life gets in the way.  The surprising part is one of their children moved to Tokyo and they could have visited him at any point in time.  That's why you shouldn't keep putting things off because now it's too late for her.

Rudi decides to fly to Tokyo to visit his son and see Mount Fuji.  Also, Trudi was very interested in Butoh dancing, an artistic style of dance that invokes organic forms and shadows.  For example, Ballet is beautiful but there's nothing natural about spinning around on your tippy toes.  Butoh is complicated to explain and there is no real explanation for it.  It's artistic expression at its best.  Rudi meets Yu, a Butoh dancer who uses a phone as a prop.  She explains that is how she communicates with her deceased mother, through the phone, and through Butoh.  He learns more about this dance-art-thing from Yu and eventually travels to Mount Fuji to fulfill his wife's dream.  And still, this entire time Nobody has told him that he is going to die because of a fatal illness.

This brings us to the point of the title.  Rudi goes to Tokyo during the blooming of the cherry trees.  The cherry blossom signifies impermanence, they stay for a bit, then go away.  Same way with our lives.  Rudi went out of his way to make up for what Trudi didn't get to accomplish because she sacrificed for everyone else.  It also lets us know that it's okay to take a little time for ourselves and work towards accomplishing our dreams.  I will give this film a 7/10.

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