Last Letter 你好，之华 (2018) - China / Japan
Director’s Cut version - 137 minutes
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Directed by veteran Japanese filmmaker Shunji Iwai in his Chinese language debut comes a slow burner that revokes his film “Love Letter” whilst staying true to his usual themes of love, lost and the conflicts of adulthood and nativeness of youth. Produced by the evergreen hopeless romantic Hong Kong’s Peter Chan, “Last Letter” is every bit the melodrama framed to slowly engage the audience bit by bit like reading a good old book about the lingerings of past love, romance, adulthood and childhood all rolled in one beautifully shoot film.
Zhou Xun plays the headline character and is ever watchable as always. Xun manages to show how she is unable to put down a past story completely, despite living in what is obviously a good standard of life. The best scenes come in the interactions between Xun and long love interest Qin Hao. Qin Hao the calm and relaxed figure as he ponder through life with a single purpose and still longing for the lost love of Xun’s late sister. The film smartly plays with the traditional letter format as a means of communication and in depth thinking. The younger versions of the sisters (Zhang Zifeng and Deng Enxi) also plays their daughters to likeable effect.
All in all, “Last Letter” depicts the destructiveness of love, the lack of it and how it affect people young and old. We get constant playfulness as we see sometimes the naiveness of childhood provides a better outlook of life than the ones poised in adulthood. Director Iwai manages to craft an absolute slow-burner where nothing seems to really happen. Like many of producer Peter Chan’s own films, there is an element of unrequited love and telling us that we are bound by choices we make in life, good or bad, we need to live it or write it.
I rated it 7.5/10