Monday, February 6, 2023

Japanese Movie Review: We Love (2018)

Rin (Hirano Sho) and Yuu (Sakurai Hinako) have been childhood friends forever, but their relationship has always been rocky due to Rin's bullying techniques and Yuu's extreme anxiety disorder. They happen to live next door to one another in the same apartment complex, go to the same high school, and even share the same set of friends in Koyomi and Keita. Yuu lacks confidence in herself in spades and any confidence she might develop is constantly undercut by Rin's biting remarks. Privately, Rin worships the ground Yuu walks on, but he can't tell her that because he doesn't know any other way to interact with her because they've been toxic for so long.

Yuu goes home to stay with family while her apartment is being renovated, and while at home, she meets the boy next door, Saeki (Ito Kentaro), a polar opposite to Rin. He immediately catches on to the weirdness between Rin and Yuu and also immediately realizes that he likes Yuu and starts pursuing her, throwing a decided chink in Rin's plans to continue conditioning Yuu into the ideal woman.

The first 3/4 of the movie will be extremely frustrating for anyone who dislikes manipulators and doormats. Up until the last 20 minutes, this movie was going to get 2 stars. And that would have been generous. If you couldn't tell by my synopsis, Rin and Yuu have a toxic relationship. He's allowed himself to become a master manipulator (which is a total 180 from his actual personality that we see from him in private, so that's just weird). And Yuu, oh my gosh, that girl is a trainwreck. I dislike meek heroines anyway, at least the ones that literally lay down on the ground and say Step on me, please!.

So between the two of them, they managed to frustrate the ever-loving life out of me up until the last 20 minutes. Rin undergoes this revelation that he should probably figure out what he's actually feeling and be as honest with her as he can be. And for the first time in the history of their relationship, Yuu actually stands up to him. I'm not denying that they love each other. The audience sees that fact quite clearly, which means both Hirano-san and Sakurai-san did a fabulous job in conveying romantic attachment. It's just the baggage that went along with the characters created so much unnecessary drama. I'm a minor fan of Hirano Sho since I really enjoy his movie Honey, also from 2018 (read my review here), so I didn't hate Rin because Hirano-san was playing him, but I could have very easily despised the character. I was thiiiiiiis close.

Then we have Ito Kentaro as Saeki, the second male lead. There is sometimes a charming, sweet, warm second male lead to contrast with a tsundere (or cold) male lead, and that's what Ito-san was hired to be, the warm, sweet SML who didn't have a snowball's chance with the heroine, but I wanted him to win anyway. Ito-san first came on my radar as Itchan, the ramen shop owner's son in Good Morning Call and I've thought him cute ever since. So as soon as he walked on the screen as a nice boy, I was rooting for him. Running true to form, though, We Love is stereotypical in that the FL and ML end up together, even if they're both quite, quite crazy.

Hysterical scene where Rin pulls an alpha kabedon on Saeki! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ 

Content-wise, if you have had any sort of run-in with a narcissist or master manipulator, you will be triggered. I'm just warning you now. The rest of the drama is pretty clean except for the emotional torture Rin puts Yuu through. Oh, and apparently Yuu's father is the one who told her to stay away from nice boys because they'll just use her. So yes, there are some messed-up themes in this movie and I'm sure the manga was even more messed up.

The only reason my final rating is 3 stars is that I see hope for both Rin and Yuu. He's not actually a bad guy. He just let Yuu's father influence his behavior from a very young age (somewhere around the age of 6) and then he couldn't figure out a way to stop being a manipulative jerk. The ending is a positive one. Yuu and Rin have finally come to more of an understanding of each other. I still think they have a long way to go because he is nowhere near as nice to her as he is capable of being, but that is her fault because she told him she doesn't recognize him when he's nice. Great job, there, Rin-kun, well done, congrats on that conditioning work you did. The production quality is pretty decent. It's a prettily filmed movie with some nice locations. It's just if you're going to watch it, go in thinking of it as more of a cautionary tale of what to never do to someone you like.

We Love (Uirabu.: Uiuishii Koi no Ohanashi)

Country: Japan

Year: 2018

Length: 100 minutes

Genre: Friendship, Romance, School, Youth

Starring: Hirano Sho, Ito Kentaro, Sakurai Hinako

My Rating

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment. 

Many thanks to RJGman56Subs for their hard work on the subtitles. You can find the movie on their website.

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