16 July 2009. This Japanese film (thanks to digital broadcasting making foreign films much more available to a wider public audience) is a charming look at young Japanese school children having to cope with both their own personal lives, school bullying, cliques, and power plays, friendships, hidden secret lives, shameful personal fears, misunderstandings and a whole range of emotions and life conflicts that seem to abound while growing up. There are powerful scenes of happiness, shame, humiliation, fear, embarrassment. This movie is a slice of life with a vibrant but simple plot, whereby a school boy seeks to uncover the secret of the "wolf girl" who is part of a small traveling circus show. But it's also about how three children live individual and separate lives hiding much about themselves from others. The boy worries that his parents might divorce. Another girl seeks to avoid disclosing her real identity. Another copes with being labeled and belittled by her looks. By the ending, unlike the typical American wrap up, there is an acknowledgment of both sadness and happiness, of real life endings and perhaps beginnings. The one weakness, is the typical Japanese ending that seems to have to strain at the efforts of emotional repentance and struggle that seems so permeate so much of Japanese films. Nevertheless, this is a fine film with a number of film plot experiences which are valuable insights into the human condition and sometimes the oversights and flaws that we hopefully can overcome. 8/10.
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When new, smart and sweet Tokyo girl, Rumiko, starts at a rural elementary school, Akira finds himself smitten, like every other male pupil. Newcomer's popularity is contrasted with the less-tolerant treatment of scruffy Hideko, who, thanks to the arrival of a carnival freak-show in town, is nicknamed the Wolf Girl. Teachers and parents snootily consider the carny off-limits, but Akira is determined to find out whether Hideko really is a wolf girl.
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