Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World (2004)

Release Date - May 8, 2004 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 145 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Isao Yukisada directed and co-wrote this romantic melodrama, based on a best-selling novel by Katayama Kyoichi. A typhoon is approaching town when Ritsuko (Kou Shibasaki, who also starred in director Yukisada's Go) discovers a mysterious old cassette tape that leads her to abruptly abandon her fiancé, Sakutaro (Takao Osawa of All About Lily Chou-Chou). When Sakutaro realizes where she's gone, it leads him to take a journey of his own. Sakutaro (played by Mirai Moriyama as a teen) goes into a deep reverie, thinking back to his high school years (which are shown in flashback), when he developed a powerful crush on a classmate, Aki (Masami Nagasawa). Aki was beautiful, poised, and athletic, and seemed on the verge of escaping their small town. With the encouragement of his best friend Ryunosuke (Issei Takahashi) and his uncle (Tsutomu Yamazaki, who also starred in Go), a wedding photographer, Sakutaro pursues Aki. She's drawn to him, and encourages him to open up to her in cassette recordings that they exchange. Their romance is blossoming when Sakutaro learns that Aki is gravely ill. As he relives his past, it becomes unclear whether their respective journeys will reunite Sakutaro and Ritsuko. Crying Out Love in the Center of the World was shown at the 2005 Asian American International Film Festival.