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» » Sheidî gurôvu (1999)

Short summary

Rika, a bright, attractive, and driven young woman, is intent on marrying her dreamy boyfriend Seiichi Ono who is not only tall and handsome but also an up-and-coming executive. One day, Ono abruptly dumps her.

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    • Author: Terr
    If put into words, the story of this Japanese romance film sounds like nothing out of the ordinary: Ono, a young businessman, leaves his girlfriend, Rika, who takes it heavily, and tries to win him back. Meanwhile, she is comforted by another young man, Kono, who is secretly in love with him. Doesn't sound like much, but because of the unique way the director Aoyama handles the characters and the story, Shady Grove is actually quite wonderful and even insightful modern fable. However naive the basic story might seem, Shady Grove manages to touch important issues concerning the nature of post-modern human existence. And, although all three main characters are egoistic, silly creatures full of self-pity, they are also instantly likable and humane, refusing to turn into those paper-thick stereotypes American romantic films are full of.

    One of the most important themes Shady Grove explores are the forms of communication and self-expression of today's youth. Ono is tired of the way Rika expresses herself through her possessions, so he dumps her; yet, in a revealing plot twist, Ono proves to be none less materialistic than Rika. Rika, unable to comprehend Ono's reasoning, tries to win him back with the help of a relationship guide book. Kono, who has left his job in a production company, tries to find some sprituality in a world oversaturated by money and corporate politics. Strangely enough, he seems to find what he's looking for in Rika, when she shows him photographs of a grove she used to play in when she was a child. But what does Rika want? Will Ono take her back? And will Kono ever discover his inner peace? To get the answers, you should see the film.

    What Aoyama appears to be saying, is that you should always be true to yourself. However misguided the characters of Shady Grove may seem, they are only fooling each other as well themselves when trying to be something that their not. They are not happy with their current situations, but they get nowhere by manipulation, and can redeem themselves only by accepting each other as they are. This is a message suited especially for the Japanese youth, who are caught between the traditional uniformity and the new-found individuality, but it is a valuable lesson for westerners just as well.

    Of course there's nothing that special in any of the subjects Shady Grove displays, but the way the movie handles them is both unique and satisfying. There are imaginary sequences taking place in Rika's childhood grove; there are some hilariously satiric sequences revealing the raw core of corporate culture; there also is a narrator who couldn't possibly know all the things he's telling us. All these little touches, together with Shady Grove's sympathetically naive overtone, make it into a delightful and witty piece of romantic cinema.
  • Credited cast:
    Arata Iura Arata Iura - Shingo Kono (as Arata)
    Tomohiro Sekiguchi Tomohiro Sekiguchi - Seiichi Ono
    Ken Mitsuishi Ken Mitsuishi - Natsuishi
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Urara Awata Urara Awata
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