First Love (Hatsu-Koi) (4 stars)

  • 15 August 2006

This article is from 2006.

Heist/Romance (Yukinari Hanawa, Japan, 2006) 115min

A fictionalisation worked around a real-life event, First Love captures the bored, destructive anger of late 1960s student radicals in Japan. Based on the true story of the theft of 300 million Yen in Toyota employee bonuses on December 10, 1968 (the largest heist in Japanese history and still unsolved); the fiction is that it was perpetrated by a schoolgirl.

Misuzu (Aoi Miyazaki) is a disaffected teen who follows her brother to a dingy jazz bar called the ‘B’, where he and his friends hang out and occasionally perform theatre. They’re seeking a way to kick the system, and usually this manifests itself in violence, battles with the police, drink, sex and drugs. However Kishi (Keisuke Koide), described as the ‘oddball’ of the group, is formulating a more drastic strike. He takes Misuzu into his confidence and she agrees to be the fulcrum of his carefully orchestrated robbery plan. As preparations progress, Misuzu grows to love the self-assured Kishi, and grows also to realise that she may never see him again.

Sensitively shot, Hanawa’s second feature allows plenty of time for the characters to reflect without transferring their frustrations to the watcher, and plots great beauty in the subtly changing emotions of Misuzu. (Robin Lee)

Cineworld, 623 8030, Sat 19 Aug, 10.15pm & Sun 20 Aug, 2.45pm, £7.95 (£5.20).

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