Norwegian Wood is a subtitled Japanese film, based on the book by Haruki Murakami. For those who don't know the plot, Wantabe is a teenage boy studying in Japan at a time of student protest. His own personal life reflects this turbulent backdrop, as he struggles to overcome the event that kickstarts this book, the suicide of his best friend. With 2 possible love interests, the beautiful and troubled Naoko, the ex of his best friend and an anchor to his past, and the vibrant and vivacious fellow student Midori, Wantabe has to choose between past and future, and life and death, which he seems to be caught in a world between. A notable line from The Beatle's song of the same name is "I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me" and this sums up the sense of the relationships in the film very accurately.
This film is fairly true to the book. All the key scenes are there and shot in the stunning and vivid way you see them in your mind, giving true justice to the scenes and emotions. There are some noticeable cuts, but overall enough was kept in to keep the plot true to itself and it is only what is to be expected anyway since not everything can be kept in and still make a good quality, none dragging, film. The only real criticism with the adaptation is that we don't get to know the background of the characters in any real way, which was a strong point of the book. It is definitely worth picking up a copy to read after if you see the film first, as so much more is gone into that feeds into the main plot and helps you understand influencing factors.
The actual shooting of this film is excellent. The use of nature juxtaposes with our main character's emotions and provides a beautiful backdrop that doesn't take away from the raw emotion that comes with the film, but rather enhances it. The scenes shot against snowy or coastal backgrounds are perhaps the most effective, as you get the the real core of the characters and nothing else is needed. It is as stylistic and dreamy as the book, but still has real substance and is believable, so makes a lovely adaptation. Music, location and the great acting all come together to make a film that just works.
The DVD had a 'making of' feature, a 'close up with the cast' and a design gallery as extras, allowing you to see more about what went on behind the scenes to be able to retell this story in a good way.