Friday, September 23, 2011
Can a grieving teenager boy fall in love with someone
who is dying? In reality, it might sound preposterous. However,
in director Gus Van
Sant's new film
(USA 2011 | 95 min.), the fairy tale of tender love is charmingly
unfold, but without leaving you heartbroken.
Pretty-faced Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) is devastated by the loss of his parents in a car accident. After he comes back from coma for three months, he drops out from school and becomes a loner. He crashes strangers' funerals and hangs out with his only friend—Hiroshi (Ryō Kase), a Kamikaze pilot ghost during World War II.
When Enoch meets a beautiful and gentle cancer patient Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska) at a funeral (where else?), he falls for her quickly. Despite the fact that there are only three months left for Annabel, Enoch breaks away from being a grief-struck loner and opens up to Annabel. They team together to have an almost childish uplifting attitude toward death and Annabel becomes surreally at ease facing the imminent destination. "Death is easy, love is hard," the imaginary ghost Hiroshi concludes. Yet, the sweet love experience between Enoch and Annabel proves otherwise, for three months at least.
Although the film is constantly dealing with the subject of death, it is surprisingly unsentimental. The two young protagonists talk or even act about death casually as if they are discussing a school project. Of course it seems unusual, but these two teenagers are nothing but ordinary. However quirky they might look, the tender love between these two beautiful youth is hard to resist.
The film deliberately removes any modern gadget to blur the time setting for the film, aiming for another timeless "Love Story" classic. While the film is some distance apart toward that goal, the terrific acting from the talent cast, the perfect costumes, the gorgeous visual, and even the brilliant selection of a romantic French song make you want to forgive the flaws in the film, and embrace the courage and love between Enoch and Annabel.
I would not mind to die like Annabel—young and beautiful, without any sign of illness from cancer, and having an Enoch in love with in the end.
If it sounds like a fairy tale, so be it.