Director: Lee Sang-il
Cast: Suzu Hirose, Tori Matsuzaka, Ryusei Yokohama, Mikako TabeLok
Runtime: 2 hrs 30 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes and Some Nudity)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 6 October 2022
Synopsis: In a park on a rainy evening, a 19-year-old university student, Fumi, offers an umbrella to a soaking wet 10-year-old girl, Sarasa. Realizing her reluctance to go home, Fumi lets her stay in his place, where she spends the next two months in peace. They take each other's hands and seem to have finally found their place in the world until Fumi is arrested for kidnapping. Fifteen years later, the lonely two are reunited both still suffering from the stigma as the victim and perpetrator of "a pedophile case". Will the society give a place to their unshakable bond they have formed.
“Fumi, can I stay here for good?” – Little Sarasa (Tamaki Shiratori)
Wandering opens in a park on a rainy afternoon with Little Sarasa (Tamaki Shiratori) huddled over her book.
While in a relationship with her salaryman beau (Ryusei Yokohama) who has a thing for vulnerable women that simply have nowhere to run, Sarasa (Suzu Hirose) finds a place called home in Fumi (Tori Matsuzaka), after a serendipitous meeting and over a decade of haunting flashbacks. Can the world actually help define what true love is or will they diss it as another unconventional relationship on the social margin?
Directed by Lee Sang-il and based on the best-selling novel by Yuu Nagira that has sold over 800,000 copies, the impeccable choice of cast and crew makes the author’s deft story-making and characterisation a pleasure to behold in big screens. The two and a half hour novel adaptation oscillates between the frivolous two months that the duo shared 15 years ago and the restraining present that they both wish to elude.
And celebrated cinematographer, Hong Kyung-Pyo has once again given the cinematic world an expertly composed piece with natural lightings that capture a medley of melancholy and merriment that foxtrots its way back into the star-crossed beings’ lives. With the visuals of the small town’s lake and moonlight cosily knitted to the characters’ emotions, Wandering’s cinematography is positively contrasting to Hong’s touch in Parasite. The latter had textured camerawork to depict a class divide, while Wandering lays claim to a fable-like dreamy sequence that raises a question as to who the real perpetrator and victim is.
Suzu Hirose has delivered an eerily stunning performance by breathing life into the character of the subservient Sarasa Kanai. Hirose aces the part in some scenes with just her poignant expressions alone sans any dialogue. With Tori Matsuzaka’s (Fumi) gripping performance (watch till the end to find out why it takes helluva guts to play that part), the entire cast members conjure up a sense of familiarity that almost convinces us that we know them on a personal level but there are still so much more for us to unravel. To say the least, there isn’t much superlatives to pit this film against to sum up the performance of the amazingly brilliant cast.
Wandering has an insanely comfortable plot that has dual dimensions in place of the regular perpetrator-victim dynamic and this definitely allows audience to connect to the other side of the coin. There aren’t any palpable plot twists planted in the compelling drama to make enough sense. Nevertheless, the questionable subject matter is handled with such impressive delicateness by Lee, Hong and all other cast and crew members.
Lee has kept the trailer to a bare minimal with the scenes all over in a mish mash perhaps just to gatekeep the plot for those who haven’t devoured the pages of the award-winning novel, for it doesn't do enough justice to the calmly settling yet spooky tranquil of the entire runtime. One can never make out the narrative merely through the trailer and the theatrical poster is no different. It may insinuate a modern love story but it is far-flung from the just- another-love-story notion.
As much as it is easier to muster up a lie on most occasions than to speak the truth with a trembling voice, the collective’s impractical expectations corner the provoked into adding layers to their true identity. With many movies that inch on unconventional relationships, this film that magically captures the essence of unconditional love hovers high above the rest by also shedding light onto a particular human condition that many choose to keep locked in the closet.
The intensely eye-opening film nudges us to be wistful and turns around to question us if we would ever make a bold move (even if it means going against the societal grain) just to recapture the glow of happier times we once had in a place called the past…
Get ready for Wandering to take you on an emotionally intimate and languid journey through Japan’s evening skyline, paired with the serenity of the street bustle and not forgetting the quaint little cafe that endorses a mood of its own.
(An emotionally intelligent book-to-silver screen rendition exploring not just the Japanese cinematic landscape but does a poetic take on societal norms that cookie-cuts individuals into something that they aren’t in their waking life)
Review by Asha Gizelle Mariadas