Shanghai International Film Festival 2019
Yuya Ishii, Sho Kataoka
Kanata Hosoda, Nagisa Sekimizu, Takanori Iwata, Mitsuki Takahata, Atsuko Maeda
The nerdy Hajime Machida (Kanata Hosoda) would be the typical high-school student, were it not for his inability to focus on his studies, his incapacity at anything sports-related… and his ever-flowing goodwill, an almost pathological condition prompting him to help all and everyone around him, at all times, and often to his own detriment. This — sometimes awkward, often misguided, and absolutely hilarious — outpouring of love has earned him the nickname “Jesus Christ” from his fellow students, and made him somewhat of an object of fascination from the opposite gender, seeing in him as an inoffensive, but wholly intriguing alternative to the common jock. Of course, the young saint has no time, nor care, for romantic entanglement, but one day, he meets Nana (Nagisa Sekimizu) at the school’s infirmary, whose unthinking act of kindness towards him capsizes Machida’s very black-and-white vision of the world.
With this big-budget adaptation of Yuki Ando’s manga The World of Machida Kun, Fantasia favourite Yuya Ishii (THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE) once again proves his inimitable talent, and flair, for a wide range of atypical stories. In keeping with his interest for loners, iconoclasts and characters marching to the beat of their own drum, Ishii provides here an unconventional coming-of-age, doubled with the empathetic and heartwarming portrait of an unlikely hero — plagued not with the consequences of his actions, but rather with the atypical largesse of his heart. Such as in THE GREAT PASSAGE, what would be a narrative impasse in less talented hands leads here to great insights about Japanese convention, as underlined by myriad imbroglios and moments of comedic prowess. Furthermore, ALMOST A MIRACLE deftly infuses its high-school hijinks with a touch of quirky fantasy — recalling previous MITSUKO DELIVERS and SAWAKO DECIDES — in what is already one of the most crowd-pleasing and heart-warming Japanese blockbusters of the summer. – Ariel Esteban Cayer
Dwein Ruedas Baltazar
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