Yokohama Ryusei and Yoshitaka Yuriko star in the charming age-gap Jdrama Your Eyes Tell (2020)

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Your Eyes Tell

Country: Japan

Year: 2020

Length: 120 minutes

Genre: Romance, Melodrama, Life, Sports, Age Gap

Starring: Ryusei Yokohama, Yuriko Yoshitaka

My Rating

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Many thanks to RJGMan56 Subs for the fansubs! It's because of folks like this person that we're able to watch quality Japanese content with subtitles! You can either stream or download with English subs from their website, go to THIS PAGE!

Former kick-boxer Rui Shinozaki (Ryusei Yokohama) just wants to live his life peacefully, working a job as a night guard for a parking lot complex. He has no real ambition other than to take each day as it comes. Orphaned from a young age, raised by nuns, a kick-boxer as a profession, and then ultimately an enforcer for a local gang, Rui is tired, run-down, hopeless, and guilt-ridden all at the age of 24.

Akari Kashiwagi (Yuriko Yoshitaka), a blind women in her early thirties, always enjoyed "watching" dramas with the previous night guard and she didn't realize that the position had changed hands to Rui so is nervous and embarrassed when she comes to the guard house one night for her regular drama watching schedule. Rui doesn't quite know what to make of her, but his protective instincts kick in and before either of them fully realize what's happening, they are in a friendship that then blossoms into something more. Akari believes Rui to be older than herself based on his Chinese birth year, little imagining that he's actually about 10 years younger. Rui convinces her that their age gap doesn't matter at all since they have each given the other something to not only live for, but passionately pursue. Rui steps up his game, returns to kick-boxing to earn an income for them, moves in with her, helps Akari start a pottery business, and everything seems to be going so smoothly until his past as an enforcer catches up with him, threatening their happy future.

Your Eyes Tell have a lot of great things going for it.

First, there's the Dickensian storytelling style. You know what I mean, the method of bringing seemingly unconnected people together in surprising family or historical ties. That method is used here, and very successfully. Rui and Akari shouldn't be connected, but they are because the world is a lot smaller than we think it is and because fate or destiny, or whatever you wish to call providence, has a way of reuniting people when they didn't even know they'd ever had a connection in the first place.

Second, Ryusei Yokohama. I've been on the fence about this young actor since I first saw him last year. I wasn't sure if he was a good actor or not, since sometimes his roles work and sometimes they just don't, at least for me. But he is undeniably golden as Antonio Shinozaki Rui. This is the first time that I can say without a doubt that he is clearly talented. This is the first role where I felt his soul in the performance, and I hope he continues to do higher-caliber stories. He's only twenty-five years old, so he still has time to find his way, but he is a very promising young actor, and he clearly invested in this role, both physically for the kickboxing element and emotionally.

Third, the delightful Yuriko Yoshitaka as Akari. This woman is a gem. She has this vibrant liveliness about her performance that just caught me so unaware. So many facial expressions, so much passion, and such authenticity to her performance as this beautiful blind heroine. I suspect she is a big part of the reason why Ryusei's performance was also so outstanding; they just meshed so well. This is only the second drama I've seen with Yuriko, but it will not be my last. And because she's the right age, I am holding out intense hope that someday she and Kazuya Kamenashi (and maybe even Tomohisa Yamashita) might just perform together in a drama. I want to see her perform with both of them because she's an actress who can absolutely hold her own and give Kamenashi especially a run for his money.

Finally, the age-gap aspect. I love age-gap stories so long as both individuals are adults. And, I'm usually entertained by the younger man/older woman trope. I've seen it done poorly and I've seen it done well, and in Your Eyes Tell, it is done very, very well. There's a chemistry between them that is the best I've seen Ryusei have, actually, with a female costar. Sometimes he comes off a bit stiff, probably because the character is written that way, but not so here. Considering they're not really even supposed to lock eyes since Akari is supposed to be blind, so much is still said in how they look at one another or towards one another. The name of the movie Your Eyes Tell is very apt for how crucial the eyes are to making this relationship work. So my little age-gap-loving heart was very happy with this one.

Content-wise, there are some intense scenes, probably a PG13 or TV14 rating. Someone drenches himself in gasoline, lights himself on fire, and throws himself out a window. That's pretty scary stuff. A car crash happens. There's a scene of attempted sexual assault that will be very triggering. Akari is almost hit by a reckless driver. There are many kickboxing scenes with quite a bit of blood. A person is hit by a car and then stabbed twice. Sensual content is limited. Rui and Akari share a few kisses and they are clearly intimate, but it is in such a peaceful, gentle sort of way as if they are each one side of the same coin. It's that red string of fate thing, tying them together. No nudity or sex scenes.

Rui spends a great deal of the movie trying to atone for his past. He was in a Catholic orphanage as a child growing up and still has a strong affinity for the faith, and deep respect for one particular nun who helped raise him. His other name, Antonio, is his baptismal name. I appreciated the religious aspects of Your Eyes Tell. There's such a powerful message of despair, hope, and forgiveness sprinkled throughout the story, it's deeply moving.

It's impossible to capture in this review just how completely I love Your Eyes Tell. While I know it does have a few small plot holes in it, that's nothing compared with the profound beauty of the story. I have several favorite Japanese movies now, and Your Eyes Tell is definitely high up on the list, especially when I need something that will move me to tears at the end. It is just that good.

And yes, Your Eyes Tell is an adaptation of the Korean movie Always and BTS did the theme song, so there is that as well. I don't watch Korean entertainment so far, but I have heard Always is very good.

Enjoy this charming music video by Justinn on YouTube! Stop watching 3 minutes into the music video or you'll get some serious spoilers for the twists in the movie! Up until then, though, you're good to go because everything you'll see is what I put in the movie synopsis.

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