I'm surprised that this movie doesn't have any reviews on the website. I am glad I am writing the first one because this movie deserves to be watched.
Hana and Alice is a story about two best friends and their friendship. Though the whole plot while centers around both falling for the same guy, it deals with a lot of other things too. Both girls are very likable but I felt like read moreAlice made more of an impact on me. Some of its scenes were so realistic that I felt like I was actually watching these girls in reality.
I have to commend the director because he portrayed some parts beautifully and realistically. The film has impressive cinematography and a great background score. Although it runs longer than required, its artistic shots will keep you well occupied. Also these girls played their parts so well that I can't imagine them not being best friends off screen too.
The overall mood of the film is light and dreamy. It has a poetic feel attached to it and leaves you with a feel good factor. It is relatable in a lot of ways. I am sure most of us have had some problems with our best friends once in a while. I particularly liked the ending scene because it reminds us how much of good friends Hana and Alice are.
While it does have a few boring parts, I'd suggest you skip through them. If ballet suits your taste then it is a treat for you as there is quite of some screen time devoted to it. The film also have some good humourous moments and it will leave you with a smile at the end of the film. Definitely recommended.
When it comes to cinematography, Shinji Iwai and his films are my absolute favorite. Whenever I watch his work, I'm always hit with a raging wave of nostalgia. There is so much simplicity, so much pureness and delight that just tugs at your heartstrings. Hana and Alice is filled with so much beauty and a simple tale of friendship and growing up that I couldn't help but smile and laugh like I'm read morea teenager all over again.
Watching this (as many other reviewers noted) was like reading a love letter. You see the story of two best friends, liking the same guy. That probably sounds shallow but it's something that happens in real life especially as you grow up and experience the wonders of a first love. And that's precisely why I love Hana and Alice. It's simplicity as a story calms you. It's nothing more than a simple tale that doesn't try to be too much than that it originally intended.
Iwai just delivers everything with such beauty. The colors aren't exotic nor are they bright but in a way, there's so mellow (but not in that dark way) and so refreshing to the eyes that you also fall in love with what you see on screen. These colors makes you feel closer to the characters and their story. Each scene, each setting is filled with visual beauty, I cannot praise it enough. Add some amazing soundtrack, the feels are everywhere. Especially for me, who has just entered her twenties.
The balance between Hana and Alice's life is also a nice touch, the other doesn't outshine the other. After all, this is about them. The similarities (absence of a male figure in their life, ballet) but also the contrast (Alice's house is filled with messy things while Hana's house is filled with flowers) shows the attention to details, the delicate choice that Iwai made. Also, Anne Suzuki and Yu Aoi just have such amazing chemistry together.
Yu Aoi's ballet dance sequence is so mesmerizing, I can watch her all day long. Anne Suzuki's heartbreaking confession is so pure, so heartfelt so evident of growing up, it brings back loads of memories.
Shinji Iwai is a great director that really does deserve more praise. He cares about setting as much as he cares about story as much as he cares about character. There's a fine balance of that here. (Always love his works with Yu Aoi too!)
Both movies have similar theme about friendship/unrequited love about young people pretending to be in a relationship. Each are of a slow pace and have interesting and beautiful cinematography throughout. Their endings are very different, but I still recommended this because the storylines are both realistic with characters shouting with authenticity.
Same writer-director: Shunji Iwai. Both movies are beautiful, with a special charm. "Hana and Alice" will appeal to a wider audience. "April Story" may be boring to some, but it is a gem of a movie, for those who can appreciate it.