So part of my hiatus involved extensive travel. Long enough to watch a few movies at least. I hadn’t checked the in-flight entertainment so I didn’t really have much in the way of plans to watch much. I literally scrolled through the films one by one, and the English dub title “The Antique” really caught my attention.
It seemed to be a simple, and seemingly sweet film to pass some time with. Intrigued by the title, and the description along with seeing Nomura Shuhei’s familiar face, I gave this story a shot.
“The Antique” starts on the unique premise of death, specifically Goura Daisuke (Nomura Shuhei) ‘s grandmother, Kinoko. As he grieves and begins to assist his family in parring down her belongings, he discovers what he believes to be a signed copy of Natsume Soseki’s novel “And Then”. He researches and arrives at Biblia Antique Books, seeking an appraisal for the collection. He comes to the right place and meets Shioriko (Kuroki Haru), who reveals a secret kept within the book and potentially in Daisuke’s family. Intrigued, Daisuke strikes a deal with Shioriko to start part time work at the store, to work out his family’s mystery, coming to find that the store and it’s owner have quite a few mysteries of their own.
The two leads are some very unique opposites. Shioriko is the young owner of the store, quiet, shy and rather unassuming. Her major flaw is that she tends to favor her relationship with novels, over interacting with other human-beings. This fact is brought up several times by her younger sister, at Shioriko’s embarrassment. In contrast, Daisuke has literally no context to novels. Due to an incident between himself, his grandmother and the copy of “And Then” in question; Daisuke has never read a novel in his life. He finds himself interested in seeing the why’s and how’s of antique bookstores and their clients which Shioriko is more then willing to provide to him.
I found their relationship incredibly charming, start to finish. It’s one of the few films I’ve watched in recent years, that the leads had relatable chemistry. I use relatable specifically, the sparks do not fly off the screen immediately. In fact more then once they are kindled only to be dampened by another character or circumstance. Rather then being annoyed, I appreciated the more realistic approach to their relationship. Daisuke is, genuinely, not going to have a clue what he’s working with since he’s never read a novel. Similarly, Shioriko is going to miss typical social cues and clues due to her rather conservative lifestyle surrounded by novels.
It helps that his story breaks free of Tokyo, settling for the more picturesque area of Kamakura, Kanagawa. The setting while not rural, showcases a more normal side of Japan that as a current resident I appreciate. Through the cinematography, we really get the feeling of a lived-in town, with well established residents. More then once, I found myself lusting at the scenes, Kinoko’s cafe, the mountain roads, steep hills, and of course Biblia Antique Books itself. The film oozes comfort and ease, in the sense of established history rather then laziness.
The biggest flaw I could argue, that I don’t count as a flaw is the predictability within the film. If it’s a well scripted and directed film, the obvious mysteries are going to have enough clues for the audience to pick up and put together. That’s the sign of a good film. It’s fairly obvious where most of action is going to go, and most of the mysteries will be resolved.
I’m sure more intuitive fans picked up all the major signs of resolutions. I happen to be a bit strange, and not so quick to put those sorts of things together. Being able to anticipate the direction of the film isn’t a bad thing! It doesn’t ruin the relationships characters build, or destroy any theories about the mysteries themselves. It’s enjoyable to watch the setting, characters and mysteries unfold. The film does what I want in most films; it tells the story from beginning to end and closes it without leaving things unresolved.
Sometimes a story needs multiple parts to conclude in a way that does justice to the source material. This isn’t that type of story friends. I can’t say that for fact, since I haven’t read the source manga. Given that it’s a shorter series with only thirty six chapters, I have confidence this film isn’t too far off the mark.
For me, “The Antique” was the right film at the right time. Actors, actresses, location, story-style and presentation worked out in everyone’s favor. It’s more slow burn satisfaction, but worth the watch if you get the opportunity.