Norwegian Wood

So I went to London this weekend, looking forward to Tran Anh  Hung’s film adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s amazing novel Norwegian Wood; yes, taken from the title of a Beatles’ song. And what can I say? It was all right, a pretty faithful adaptation, and brought up some scenes I had totally forgotten. But there was so much that could have improved the film.

So, needless to say, I prefer the book. Norwegian Wood is the first character-driven narrative that I absolutely adore, with all my heart. I started reading it thinking that I wouldn’t like it at all, then I finished reading the novel thinking that it was the best thing I had read for a long while!

The characters draw you in, they are so odd and quirky, bigger-than-life characters that are rarely found in good old England. The casting for the film was spot on, the looks and appearance of all the actors were perfect. Well, all except for one: Naoko, the first female love interest for the male protagonist Watanabe.

Naoko in Murakami’s book has psychological issues, yes, but I found the Naoko in Tran’s film pathetic and whiny. This was perhaps under the direction of Tran; but needless to say, out of all the characters, Naoko would have been the most difficult to reflect on film anyways. But basically, I was expecting too much, I guess.

It’s a long book, so naturally many parts weren’t included in the film, which I naturally thought was a real shame. There are so many rich and hilarious scenes and characters that weren’t or only briefly included, for example Storm Trooper, Watanabe’s hilarious room mate. Though, I can understand taking the humour down a notch to focus on the seriousness of the narrative.

But then again, that was the issue I had with the film: it was too focused on sex in relationships; which, don’t get me wrong, Murakami focuses a lot on sex. But there was also a lot of humour and death in the book – not together, of course. So I felt Tran decreased the humour and death to focus on the sex in relationships instead; and I got the impression that sex, or lack of, was the basis as to why the relationships in the narrative work – or don’t work. I didn’t totally agree with this when I read the book, but I guess each reader has a different interpretation of the narrative.

So many people die in the story, I felt that Tran could have portrayed the mourning scenes more poignantly. When I saw Mark Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, there was a particular scene at the end where the male protagonist, Tommy, just lets it all out and cries and cries and cries. Watching this heart-rending scene, I was blubbing like a baby in a pretty packed cinema, I just couldn’t help the tears, it was like an unending waterfall streaming out of my eyes.

Norwegian Wood’s Watanabe, mourning after Naoko in a mourning / crying scene, didn’t really capture the pain I was half expecting, half hoping. I went in the cinema thinking that I would be bawling my eyes out, but I was only teary eyed. Actor Ken’ichi Matsuyama did a great job; but I think it fell down to the unnecessary orchestral track covering his cries of pain. Ultimately, it was a good film, but a better book.

On another note, in my last post I stated that I was going to read Don DeLillo’s White Noise. Wonderful book, I love anything that captures the baseness of a capitalist society, and the focus of media and television. But, my plan of finding said book on Google books did not work. So, on Thursday, I got up extra early, jumped on a train to the “Capital of Cornwall” to buy White Noise as soon as Waterstones opened. Read the whole thing in a day, that’s how good it was.

Not only that, but when I got on the train, this random woman gave me this flyer. I assumed it was a religious thing, as it usually is. Turns out it was a nice little flyer saying for passengers boarding trains to leave ‘emotional rubbish’ outside. Here’s what it said: “Please leave anything you do not wish to take on your journey in the provided bin. (Unpleasant thoughts, dreadful objects, tedious emotions, etc.) Thank you for helping us keep the train bright and beautiful. Have a wonderful journey”. Needless to say, I did.

On that note, I shall leave, and continue reading my next book.

Bye *waves*

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