Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Love Film Reviews: We Were There (Bokura Ga Ita) Part 1 & Part 2

I really never thought I would ever do love film reviews on this site because I don't really get to like a lot of love stories. I feel the stories are often too ridiculous that I find it easier to believe that John Travolta and Nicolas Cage can actually exchange face and then back again rather than believe that a guy will actually run towards a girl at the airport to confess his love and admit his stupidity. I know, I have issues. Rant over. 

We Were There changed that.

Click here to read the review of a different kind of love, between a not so young girl and a boy, Let The Right One In.


Nanami falls in love with Yano but she soon realizes that she just might have to live with his past because he seems unable to let go of it. 

Sounds like one of those tragic love film review? It's not. Read on.


There are certain things that make love stories utterly disgusting for me. It is always too far removed from reality. I mean, come on. How many guys will really stand in the rain while they tell the girl all the small cute details of how she smiles, smells and moves that drive him crazy. 90% of those men don't even notice when a girl's hair is tied or loose, how do you expect them to notice those small details like different types of smiles? 

I have issues. 

I also have disdain on the way movies are setting unrealistic expectations about love. No one lives happily ever after. People live and they become happy every now and then but there is no happily ever after. 

I know I have issues but you have to admit I have a point. 

I also frown at the sheer definition love in these movies. It is often characterized by people's inability to stay away from someone who is already in a committed relationship. It is also often misconstrued for lust or stupidity. 

I know I have issues but you have to admit I have a point and it's a good one at that. 

Given all of that, We Were There is one movie that set it straight. It is one movie that portrayed love the right away and portrayed humanity the right way. 


Nanami fell in love with Yano aware that he may still be hanged up with his ex-girlfriend who died. By the time she realized he is all hanged up with death of his girlfriend, she was deeply in love with him. She knew the guy is all messed up and she realized there is more to his "hang up" than just the death of his ex-girlfriend. 

Instead of resorting to fantastic expressions of love, she made him feel her love the right way, by being understanding, patient and unselfish. She didn't try to possess him like a lunatic, she kept her distance when needed and asserted her presence when she knows he needed it. She didn't try to make it all better for him because she knew it was beyond her. She just assured him and made him feel she is there with him and that if he wants to, he can give her half his pain. 

Her love may have been articulated by Take's sister when she spoke to Yano about Nanami. She told him, "Your first girlfriend looks for love. Nanami gives love." 

Throughout the movie, that's what she essentially did. She loved him in all the right ways. In fact, she did it to all. In her limited interaction with others, she is always shown literally carrying heavy burden. She is the class president. In school activities, she always ends up carrying heavy things. One of her classmates said it, "She is carrying the heavier side" and she did so with a smile on her face.

This is not to say she acted like a saint. As I've said, the movie portrayed humanity the right way. Like everyone else, she has the need to posses the person she loves, Yano most of all. Yes, she set forth some conditions but it is only meant for her to understand his pain not to release her from it. All she wanted was for him tell her the truth and not for him to give himself to her fully.

When she did understand him, she did so till the end, even during the times when she can't find him. Even when he left her and even when he reappeared only to assure him he won't come back.

On that day when they came together as a couple, Yano told her he liked but not sure if he loves her. He asked her if she can accept him in his uncertainty and she nodded yes. She accepted his uncertainty till the end. 

I usually cheer for the other girl or the other guy. I am not the kind that cheers for the main couple. Somehow, I like sympathizing with the one that's left behind. I have issues.

Except for this movie. For the first time, I saw and felt how love should be. It's not big and grand and colorful. It's simple and true and that's what made me want them to end up being together. 

It is obvious that her love for him is greater, bigger, and purer. It is obvious that she's way more mature and way more compassionate. I usually find that appalling (in order for me not to be sad, I have issues) but somehow, she made me admire her. She made me want for her what she wants for him, happiness and peace that people can only find in love.   


This is not to say Yano doesn't love Nanami enough. Yano's experience in love is just different and always entwined with pain. His mother told him she had him to spite his father's wife (his mother is his father's mistress). Even his relationship with his first girlfriend, Nana, was complicated. She was still in a relationship when she asked him to "make her happy". Nana was unfaithful, like his mother, but he loved her because it was familiar. And then she died and Yano felt her blood was on his hands. 

It was a burden he couldn't let go and it was a burden that dictated his actions until the end. In fact, it was the burden that let him go, he never quite was able to let go of it.

Maybe that is part of who he is. Nanami, in the beginning of the film, said Yano is someone who attracts everything and everyone. Everything gravitates towards him. That is solidified with how people always seem to end up waiting for him. They are always waiting or going to him, to talk with him or to spend time with him. Take, Yuri and even Nanami all end up always waiting for him, literally. 

His greatest weakness is inability to reject everything and everyone that sticks to him, from to people to memory to pain.

He knew it. He was aware of his weakness and fully acknowledge it. It was why he chose to leave Nanami. He knew he wasn't whole, he wasn't the man Nanami deserved. To a certain extent, that's what a mature should be. You can't get into a relationship expecting the other person to make you whole. You have to be whole and complete before you get into a relationship. 

He never really felt loved, something that his bestfriend echoed. Yano never really knew how it was to be loved and that is why he is unsure on how to give it. From his point of view, letting go of Nanami to save him from his misery was all the he could do to love her. He knew Nanami will take his pain and take his burden, the way she did in high school. The only way from saving her from it is by walking away. 

Whether or not sharing his life was in fact the right thing to do especially with your partner is probably immaterial to him. He couldn't bear to let Nanami suffer again especially when his pain was greater. He knew that Nanami deserved no less than his best self and when he finally got there, it was his turn to look for her. 


And then there is the other guy. In a perfect world, it should have been Take and Nanami. Had it been that way, it would have been a movie full of cheesy scenes of the two of them running around the green field and the beach. But it wasn't an ideal world. Take's world was perfect in its simplicity and the speck was Nanami. He loved someone who couldn't love him in return. He was to Nanami as Nanami was to Yano. 

Like Nanami, he loved her till the end and perhaps under more difficult circumstances. He was with Nanami for 6 years and yet Nanami couldn't love him back, not even after trying. 

It is questionable whether or not Take was able to let go of Nanami. He did find someone but he didn't "run" to her in the end and it was never quite the smile he had with Nanami. In fact, Nanami had to push him away.

Last Words

As you may have guessed by now, I love subtlety when it comes to drama or highly emotional subjects. I appreciate silence more than screams and that is what this movie has. It was subtle and the brilliance is found in the details, from cinematography to acting to production design. 

Oh and yeah, it has two parts. Watch both part, one after the other.

Don't expect lots of love film reviews. This is an oddity.

1 comment:

  1. Wow.
    Great, complete review and analysis.
    Took the words right out of my mouth.
    Thank you!