The 2010 LA Film Fest had another success with the North American premiere for the Japanese gone Hollywood film, Golden Slumber – an intentional reference to the classic Beatles song which is sung multiple times over in the film. The funny thing about this film is that it felt very much like an American action film with a bit more edge and better characters.
The film is about a sweet, gullible guy named Aoyagi who is framed for assassinating the Prime Minister. Due to his sweet nature, a lot of favors and some good friends, he’s able to fight back against a group of scary government officials who are trying to trap him.
My favorite part about this film was the unexpected side-kick. From the get-go we know that there is a serial killer on the lose in Japan, but after many awkward encounters, our lead character ends up relying on him. He’s by no means a “good guy” but he’s fascinating to watch and because he admires our lead character for possibly murdering the prime minister he helps him along — nice littler twist on “good vs. evil”. Often times we have no idea where he gets his information from, but for some reason he’s entertaining enough that you don’t really care.
There are a lot of plot points in the film and they do a great job of tying them all together and making sure the audience keeps track of them – there are times when it feel like they do a little too good of a job at making sure you “get it” and the hints become large blinking signposts, but that being said, it was clear, concise and a fun ride to go on.
The film must have had a decent sized budget for an independent film because they were constantly playing well known music (mainly from The Beatles), they had a lot of explosions and locations, and the film looked like it was shot with high quality equipment.
It may have trouble making it overseas because it can’t really be remade because it’s so similar to other Hollywood films that have already been done (that’s not to say that Hollywood won’t try if this one does well). What separates it from being a complete cliche is its characters. Across the board they were flawed and therefore more interesting than in American films. There is no ridiculously attractive man who has a ton of tricks up his sleeve, only a sweet average guy who has been trapped and uses what he has around him to try and survive.
Overall, it’s a solid film and despite it’s long runtime of 139 minutes, it kept me entertained the whole way through. It could use a bit of cutting down just to make it easier for audiences to sit through, but it’s a fun film and well made!
- Directed By: Yoshihiro Nakamura
- Producers: Yosushi Uta Gawa, Hitoshi Endo, Hisashi Usui
- Screenwriters: Yoshihiro Nakamura, Tamio Hayashi, Kenichi Suzuki
- Cinematographer: Takashi Komatsu
- Editor: Hirohide Abe
- Cast: Masato Sakai, Yuko Takeuchi, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Gekidan Hitori, Teruyuki Kagawa
Official LAFF Info and Synopsis:
(Japan, 2009, 139 mins, 35mm)
In Yoshihiro Nakamura’s seriocomic thriller, when easy-going Aoyagi meets an old friend for a fishing trip, he ends up drugged, framed for the Prime Minister’s assassination, and on the run from corrupt cops. It’s only the beginning of what quickly becomes the worst, weirdest day of his life. But he’ll get by with a little help from his friends, who include a famous pop diva, a rockabilly deliveryman, a crippled old gangster, and the world’s most cheerful serial killer.
Among the many puzzles of this twisty, clever film is how Nakamura manages to sneak a genuinely moving tribute to friendship into the madcap procession of perilous events. No matter what befalls Aoyagi, his friends and parents believe in him because of his steadfast, almost irrational pleasantness. For all of us who’ve ever wondered what a cross between Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and The Fugitive might look like, search no further than this hugely satisfying pop concoction, based on a novel by the popular young novelist Kotaro Isaka and already a major hit in its native Japan.
This is not the “best” trailer, do take it with a grain of salt. At least it gets some of the characters and the premise across. The music really doesn’t help you take it seriously or understand it, but if you’re brave check it out…