Higashigaoka Junior High School is in turmoil as one of the pupils, Noguchi, who had been bullied, attempted suicide last term. On the first day of the new term, a substitute teacher arrives to take the second year class. When the teacher, Murauchi (Hiroshi Abe), introduces himself, the pupils are surprised by his stutter. He has a speech impediment. Unable to speak eloquently, Murauchi faces his pupils with 'words of truth'. His first instruction to the pupils is to return Noguchi's desk and chair to the original place in the classroom. Every morning Murauchi greets the empty desk, "Good morning, Noguchi." This causes a ripple beyond the classroom and among other teachers and parents, but Murauchi will not stop doing it. Eventually the day comes when Murauchi must leave. Add Synopsis In Portuguese
Cast & Credits
If you were enthralled by watching the Japanese drama LIFE, then Aoi Tori is definitely the movie for you. Although the bullying has already occurred at this point, the topics brought up are much the same. The students in the victim's class were forced to right reflection essays of at least five pages expressing their remorse over Noguchi's suicide attempt, and had to revise the essays until the teachers were satisfied. This, the teachers think, is enough for the students to feel they have repented.
Hiroshi Abe plays a poignant, strong Murauchi, despite (or maybe because of) his stutter. His steady gaze as he looks over the classroom, his greeting to Noguchi every morning, everything he does is done with such clarity and care, it's a joy to watch.
Hongo Kanata, best known for his roles in the live action Prince of Tennis movie as well as Nana 2, plays a conflicted and haunted student. He's not a hero, he's not perfect. He doesn't understand what putting Noguchi's desk back will accomplish, he gets frustrated at Murauchi for tormenting the class. At the same time, he questions how at fault he is when he recalls his participation in the bullying, and he answers honestly when his friend Inoue, a major player in the whole affair, asks "Were we really bullying him? He was always laughing."
"Yes, we were. He wouldn't have done that if we weren't."
Like most Japanese films, Aoi Tori has a decidedly slow pace. But as each detail of Noguchi's suicide attempt is revealed, you will find yourself holding you breath, wondering how things ended up this way, and how things will be from now on.
It's a beautiful, heartbreaking film. Definitely an A+ in my book.