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‘A Bride for Rip Van Winkle’ (review)

Produced by Shigemichi Sugita,
Shunji Iwai,
Muneyuki Kii,
Tomoyuki Miyagawa, Masashi Mizuno

Written and Directed by Shunji Iwai
Starring Haru Kuroki, Gou Ayano, Cocco,
Hideko Hara,
Go Jibiki, Soko Wada,
Tomoko Mariya, Yugo Sado,

Nana Natsume, Akio Kaneda, Lily


Love. It’s one of the most complicated emotions known to man that’ll make the best of people fall into a life a regret and depression. While others are able to bask in the glow of finding someone who they belong to, someone they deem “completes” them, there are those who will never have this in their life. As time passes, loneliness soon breaks down people’s defensive as they soon become desperate to find someone. As a result, people enter into relationship and marriage dismissive of the numerous warning signs.

In A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, director Shunji Iwai once again shines as he carefully steps into the mind of a lonely woman who just wants to be loved. Expertly adapted from his novel Hana and Alice, Iwai masterfully breaks apart a marriage built on lies and cruelty as a young woman’s life is torn apart after falling for a man with ulterior motives.

Nanami (played by Haru Kuroki) has been asleep (metaphorically) through most her life as a teacher and quiet housewife who stands for nothing. After being rejected in life, she finds herself alone waiting for Tetsuo, her blind date. Assertive and slightly aggressive, they have been communicating via text message. Both teachers, they have nothing in common, both in life and personality; Tetsuo is loud while Nanami is quiet and shy. Despite their opposite personalities and lifestyles, they become engaged and began to make wedding plans. Family and friends soon collide from the opposing sides who hide their hatred of one another in a clouded facade. Lies soon began to unravel as Nanami watches her world come apart as infidelities, isolation, and greed are revealed.

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle is a masterclass in screenwriting, storytelling, directing and acting. The story while complicated is handled with gracious care as Iwai balances introducing an array of characters with their backstory without overwhelming the audience or cutting into another characters’ screentime. Everyone serves a purpose and never overstays their welcome. More important, is how Iwai and cinematographer Chigi Kanbe is able to create the feeling of isolation Nanami experiences. Also mimicking a David Lynch film, the movie becomes suspenseful clearly unfolding as the script becomes more clever.

Kuroki is captivating onscreen as a woman afraid to live. She acts with every ounce of her soul. The moments of silence when Kuroki expresses full monologue by the way she controls her eyes. Then there are complex moments when the slightest of touch causes her flinch in horror.

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle is exquisite and haunting that would be a shame for anyone to miss. Melodramatic and gripping the movie industry is made better because of the existence of this film.


A Bride for Rip Van Winkle opens in cinemas November 10th
For ticketing information, please visit


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