A Bride For Rip Van Winkle (2016)

Directed by: Shunji Iwai
Country: Japan

Writer/director Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”, “Love Letter”) surprises again with “A Bride for Rip Van Winkle”.
The drama probes love in an extreme perspective and tells the misadventures of an openhearted woman who feels lost and anguished after a failed marriage.

The sweet and gentle Nanami (Haru Kuroki) is giving her first steps as a teacher, but her weak voice and bashful posture seem inadequate to face the cruel students. The possibility of being fired from the school becomes a tough reality, but Nanami decides to focus on Tetsuya (Gô Jibiki), a young teacher she met online, and the one she's going to marry.
Tetsuya, however, wasn't the man she thought he was. He gradually distanced himself from her, with a suspicious behavior that makes her think he’s having an affair. Restless and disappointed, she hires a mysterious performer, Yukimaso Amuro (Gô Ayano), to follow her husband and answer all her questions. Amuro wasn’t really a stranger, though. He had worked for Nanami during her wedding party, taking a group of strangers to pretend they were her relatives. Also, Nanami’s parents acted as they were still together, only to cause a good impression on the groom’s upper-class family.

The drama suddenly shifts to a psychological mystery thriller when the secret is unveiled and Nanami is unjustly accused of having an affair, falling immediately in disgrace. This is when the always-enigmatic Amuro offers his help and hires the lonely Nanami to work with him. Over the course of the work, she’ll find unconditional love in Mashiro (Cocco), an apparently happy woman who, after all, is suffering heavily in this phase of her life.

Exhibiting an adventurous camerawork, Mr. Iwai draws delicate movements and strong dramatic intonations during this three-hour director’s cut that, despite stumbling in its final scenes, is recommended mostly for its mood, intriguing paths, and associated complexity.
Nonetheless, it’s quite clear that this is not for everyone’s taste.