Director: Isao Yukisada
Cast: Haruma Miura, Cecilia Liu Shi Shi, Chang Hsiao-Chuan
Runtime: 2 hrs 6 mins
Released By: Encore Films
Official Website: http://www.facebook.com/encorefilms
Opening Day: 4 December 2014
Synopsis: “Five Minutes to Tomorrow” is a romantic mystery that depicts the sadness of lost souls. It depicts the lives of a pair of identical twin sisters who are in love with the same man, and a man who lives his life according to a clock that is set five minutes late. Halfway through this film, the twin sisters get into an accident while on holiday, and only one survives. But is the woman that returns to her lover the right twin? What if they have switched places? As the protagonist’s suspicion grows, the film turns into a mystery in the vein of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”. The concept behind this mystery ? the trials and tribulations of a heart that loves someone ? is what the greatest love stories are made of.
Five Minutes to Tomorrow is the latest work by award winning Japanese director, Isao Yukisada. The movie is loosely based on the novel series, Five Minutes to Tomorrow Side A & B. The entire backdrop of the movie was shifted to Shanghai and hence the movie is entirely delivered in Mandarin. It is also Isao’s first attempting at directing a movie in his non-native language.
The story is about a pair of identical twin sisters, Ruo Lan and Ru Mei (both played by Cecilia Liu) who have been switching roles since young. Ruo Lan then had a fateful encounter at the pool with Ah Liang (played by Haruma Miura), a watch repairman from Japan. Their relationship gradually develops romantically as Ah Liang starts to know more about Ruo Lan and her perplexing relationship with her twin sister Ru Mei. To add on to the web of relationships, Tian Lun (played by Joseph Chang) is Ru Mei’s romantic interest, who was actually a guy that Ruo Lan first took interest in.
These sisters have the same face, but have different personalities and lead very different lives. On a getaway trip with just the both of them, one of them got killed in an accident and that’s when the mystery kicked in. While the novel’s focus is on the male protagonist, the movie’s focus was much more on the pair of twin sisters. The movie was slow moving and took a long time before it brought us to the turning point. If you could recall Isao’s award winning work, “Crying out love, from the Centre of the Earth”, the pacing is just about similar. The movie also makes use of many several flashbacks, drawing references to the opening scene when they were younger which further thickens the mystery. Is the surviving one only simply cheating herself to believe that she is Ru Mei?
No doubt, the movie has got an excellent lineup of actors and actress. There’s Taiwanese actor Joseph Chang (lead of popular TV drama Drunken to Love You), Japanese actor Miura Haruma (recently casted as lead for live-action Attack on Titan movie), and Chinese actress Cecilia Liu (aka Liu Shi Shi; lead actress of highly rated Chinese drama Scarlet Heart – Bu Bu Jing Xin). In particular, Cecilia Liu has indeed shown sophistication in her acting as she handled the roles of the twin sisters well. However, it was a pity that there wasn’t enough room for both Haruma MIiura and Joseph Chang to truly demonstrate their full potential. It felt like their characters were rather confined, as though on a ball and chain.
In terms of the story development, there was no significant peak although it progressed. There was no breakthrough or great revelation to the mystery that could make the cut. Regarding the couples’ romance, it also didn’t quite hit the bull’s eye. In fact, in one scene that involved Ruo Lan and Ah Liang, the mood was just climbing and then got cut to a disconnected scene. It was probably intentional because it happened more than once, but it was jarring and didn’t do any good to the movie overall.
While Five Minutes to Tomorrow is touted to be a Japanese director’s first to have wide theatrical release in China over 4000 screens and was well received, it probably wouldn’t do as well in our local and Japanese ticket box office (FYI, Singapore has it first even before Japan, which is scheduled to release on 27 Dec 2014). The overarching themes on identity and time can be timeless (pun intended) and foolproof, but it takes more than what this film has to offer to make it a memorable one.
(Patiently waited for the movie to take flight, but it never really did. Mystery unresolved)
Review by Tho Shu Ling