Hana & Alice is a movie about relationship from writer/director Shunji Iwai, who is probably best known for “Riri Shushu no Subete” (All about Lily Chou-Chou), and it’s a great point of reference as anyone who enjoys one will surely love the other. Hanako and Arisugawa are best friends who both fall for the same boy, but this film is so much more than that.
I could spend all day praising the cinematography (which is compelling) or the directing (which is tactful), but what really makes this film glow are its characters. From the very first, we are introduced to these delightful little character nuances that instantly make them feel like friends. Memorable and lovable, it’s easy to root for them even when they do the wrong thing. As the object of their affection strains their friendship further and further, we get the chance to see who they are as people.
It’s not a complex film. There’s very little in the way of actual story, and most of the things that happen don’t actually have any effect on the plot. It IS, however, a beautiful look at the lives and relationships of some generally charming characters.
It bears mentioning that this is an exceptionally Japanese film, which means that the pacing is considerably slower than most westerners are accustomed to, and the movie itself exhibits a quirkiness that most will find strange and foreign – but if that’s your cup of tea, this movie is for you.
Also, because the characters are junior high school students, the Japanese used in the film is relatively simple, so it’s good practice for anybody who is studying!