MOVIE REVIEW: Colors of the Wind

(Image courtesy of Asian Pop-Up Cinema and Lisa Trifone)

(Image courtesy of Asian Pop-Up Cinema and Lisa Trifone)

Opening Night film of Asian Pop-Up Cinema- Season Six selection


Visiting Chicago from Japan, director Jae-young Kwak’s Colors of the Wind was the Opening Night film of the current sixth edition of Chicago’s biannual Asian Pop-Up Cinema program.  It is the first of a nine-film series hosted by the AMC River East location downtown. Ardent film fans looking for the eclectic buried treasure, seek out and support these upcoming screening events.

Back in August of 2016, my review of Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans examined the definition of melodrama.  I distilled an elongated description down to the simpler statement of “melodramas take preposterous human mistakes or flaws and play them for dramatic effect.”  Expressing tender emotions and sparked more than a dash or two of magic, Colors of the Wind lays the melodrama on nice and thick for an engaging romance between dueling duel identities.  

The melodramatic preposterousness of Colors of the Wind is two-fold.  The first layer is good old-fashioned stage magic, everything from card tricks to disappearing acts.  The second comes from the notion of doppelgangers, the fanciful term for doubles, ghostly counterparts, and alter egos that have been a storytelling trope before in film.  Both elements create spirited and soapy intrigue in the film when combined with the romantic destiny of star-crossed lovers.  Colors of the Wind features two saddened individuals who seek to renew the lost true love they remember with people who could pass for their twins.

In Tokyo, a young man named Ryo, played by Yuki Furukawa (The Eternal Zero and the Netflix series Erased) is lamenting the apparent suicide of his beautiful girlfriend Yuri (TV actress Takemi Fujii). She left behind a memory box of former possessions including a key, a diary, and large lollipop, all seemingly having a place in a larger mystery.  Those items and an audiotape create a turning point. The familiar recorded voice reveals the existence of a woman who looks exactly like Yuri in another part of the country.

Drawn by a hopeful chance of familiarity and spurred by his magic Instructor/bartender (Naoto Takenaka) teaching him about connections between doppelgangers, Ryo follows the clues north to the icy island of Hokkaido.  There, he meets that very woman, an equally wayward soul named Aya (Fujii again). She is convinced the man standing before her is Ryu (Furukawa again), her escape artist former lover who went missing after a huge televised stunt went awry.  For the moment, Ryo lets her believe that and together the two embark on renewed mutual affection and discovery of past or absent connections.

Colors of the Wind asks a great deal of its audience for the allowance of disbelief.  The magical chops for the tricks and illusions are an impressive little delight that always scores well.  The challenge is the compounded courtship. Even with a sumptuous musical score and a soft lens for wide vistas and intimate photography, this film’s odd tone can only be stretched so far.  At some points, the enchanted theatrics can no longer soften the ridiculousness. The saving energy comes from the two leads. Furukawa and Fujii are easy on the eyes and very committed to the emotional obstacles.  They sell the compelling romance and longing poetry when the tricks no longer fool.

LESSON #1: MAGIC IS ATTRACTIVE-- Stepping out of the romantic drama to a more casual place of criticism and praise, Colors of the Wind supports a long-valued theory: magicians are dreamy.  If you think a keen sense of humor is the only way to woo a potential partner, try dazzling them with playful misdirection of the sleeves and hat variety.   To quote the film “if it can be explained it’s no longer magic.” Game that good might need to hire Billy Dee Williams as its spokesperson next to Colt 45 Malt Liquor.  

LESSON #2: THE EXISTENCE OF DOPPELGANGERS-- The question is simple.  Do you believe in doppelgangers?  Somewhere in the world, is there a person that is your physical and spiritual equal?  If you buy that and table the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, welcome to Colors of the Wind.  

LESSON #3: ARE LOOKS ENOUGH?-- Going further with the doppelgänger route, finding someone that looks exactly or closely like a current or former lover would definitely throw anyone for a loop.  Can looks alone elicit the same attraction, arousal, or connection? True love is becoming one mind and soul, which should top the coincidence of looks. Colors of the Wind dares to present finding both matching looks and matching souls.