Release Date: May 18th, 2007 (ImaginAsian Theater) by Eleven Arts. The Cast: Ken Watanabe, Kanako Higuchi, Kenji Sakaguchi, Kazue Fukiishi, Asami Mizukawa, Noritake Kinashi, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Eriko Watanabe. Directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi.
In Japanese with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Masayuki Saeki (Watanabe), a 49-year old man, develops Alzheimer’s disease, which affects his family and work.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Memories of Tomorrow is a profoundly absorbing romantic drama about how a middle-aged man deals with Alzheimer’s disease and how his loved ones cope with it. Masayuki has a loving and supportive wife, Emiko, (Higuchi), a daughter, Rie (Fukiishi), who is about to get married, and a well-paying job at an advertising agency. He starts forgetting small things, such as where he put the car keys or simple driving directions, which he blames on stress from overworking. When he misses important business meetings, that’s when his wife encourages him to see a doctor. Unlike in the slightly similar Away From Her, the second act includes some very interesting scenes where Masayuki gradually learns about the medical details of Alzheimer’s disease and how to deal with them while trying to hide it from his daughter. None of these scenes would have worked if it weren’t for Ken Watanabe’s riveting performance, the absolute best his acting career. He masters a wide range of complex emotions and helps to bring Masayuki to life so that you actually care about him, even when the plot feels a bit clichéd, sappy and tedious. The most powerful scenes are the ones with Masayuki interacting with Emiko and Rie. Co-screenwriters Hakaru Sunamoto and Uiko Miura weave some flashback scenes into the intricate narrative to show how he met and fell in love with Emiko. This allows for their love o be much stronger and palpable in the present day. Director Yukihiko Tsutsumi includes exquisite cinematography and breathtaking scenery along a well-chosen musical score that allows you to become completely immersed by this powerful, unforgettable story.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: There are many profound scenes when Masayuki shows signs of Alzheimer’s while finding the courage to adjust to it, such as when he gives a poignant, heartfelt speech at Rie’s wedding. In another scene, he has an emotional breakdown in front of his wife. It’s surprisingly uplifting and heartwarming to watch how Emiko sticks by him unconditionally, which shows how much she truly loves him and how lucky he is to have her as his soul mate.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Poignant, breathtaking, profound and unforgettable. Ken Watanabe gives best performance of his career.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater.
The "M" Menu