A story of love and redemption, Arthur (McConaughey), an American professor, travels to Japan in the midst of a personal crisis. As he wanders through the Japanese forest of Aokigahara contemplating suicide, he meets an enigmatic stranger (Watanabe) who is lost and injured. The two embark on a spiritual journey of friendship and survival that reconnects Arthur with his love for his wife (Watts).
2016, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 hour 50 minutes
1080p, Dolby True HD 5.1, 2.35:1 aspect ratio
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Once in a while, a movie comes along that makes you stop and think about what is really important in life. The story opens with Arthur booking a flight to Japan. As more of the story back fills with memories from his recent past, a story develops that illustrates the power of forgiveness and the deep emotional bond people develop between themselves. Aokigahara is a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji that many people from around the world go to in order to end their lives. Over a hundred suicides are recorded there each year. Arthur goes to kill himself out of guilt he feels for the recent death of his wife. Without giving too much away, he meets up with a stranger and the resulting dialog and struggle to survive after getting lost reveals many different layers of emotion and the need to ask forgiveness. In Arthur’s case, he needs to forgive himself. It has been said that suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem. Dying is easy, but going on and living takes real courage. I know that this sounds like a depressing movie, but it is not. It is certainly contemplative, and in the end, love is stronger than death.
The acting is top notch and needed to be in order to pull this off emotionally. McConaughey and Watanabe are excellent here and carry off some of the powerful emotions with just the expressions on their faces. It might be true that Van Sant uses plot points like cancer, depression and alcoholism just to get us to feel for the characters, but in the bigger scheme of things, I didn’t mind have my emotions manipulated and I enjoyed this film. The scenery is beautiful as well, which is important as the forest is a “character” too. Recommended!
The picture and sound stage are beautifully portrayed here. Contrast and colors are spot on. The sound of the wind and storm through the trees are all encompassing. Dialog is well centered and quite intelligible. The subwoofer will sleep through most of this film.
Included are some “making of” and commentaries from the actors and director.