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Love Like the Falling Petals 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Muddled and frustrating almost from the outset, Yoshihiro Fukagawa’s achingly sentimental weepie Love Like the Falling Petals struggles to tell its story with coherent clarity. It offers a lament for the fleeting nature of existence while simultaneously bemoaning the financial and emotional burden the elderly impose upon their families. Honoka Matsumoto plays a disarmingly youthful hairstylist who is stricken by a rare condition that causes her body to age rapidly, leaving her first love, played by Kento Nakajima, reeling.
Fukagawa resists the temptation to turn Keisuke Uyama’s novel into a Japanese version of M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, and instead presents a cautionary tale about the dangers of dragging one’s heels.
Haruto (Nakajima) has big dreams of becoming a photographer, but lacks the confidence or conviction to pursue them. That doesn’t stop him from lying to his hairdresser, telling the obviously impressed Misaki (Matsumoto) that he takes pictures professionally.
She is so excited that she almost slices his ear off, and by way of an apology agrees to go with him to photograph the cherry blossom. The symbolism could not be clumsier: the famously brief sakura season is what brings these two youngsters together, and Haruto’s passion is for capturing life’s most fleeting moments and preserving them for all eternity.
After a string of cripplingly awkward dates, the couple eventually spend the night together, only for Misaki to up and leave the next morning, never to return. Haruto is understandably distraught, but his pleas for an explanation go unanswered, and eventually he is forced to move forward with his life.
The infantilisation of adult courtship in the first half of Love Like the Falling Petals is extreme, and certainly infuriating even by the standards of Japanese romances. However, as the full extent of Misaki’s condition becomes clear, Fukagawa appears to have played their early courtship in this way to exaggerate Misaki’s descent into decrepitude.
In a matter of months, the sprightly twenty-something is reduced to a silver-haired, wrinkly crone.
From here, the narrative shifts to exploring how Misaki’s older brother (Kento Nagayama) and his fiancée (Yuki Sakurai) struggle as they bear the financial brunt of her plight. This affords Fukagawa a fascinating opportunity to vent openly about the issue of an ageing society, which is particularly pressing in Japan, without disrespecting the elderly. It gives the film – somewhat ironically – a new lease of life in its final throes, only for the characters to shy away from making any truly tough decisions.