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Starring: Chieko Baishô, Masahiro Higashide, Tsubasa Honda
Director: Katsuhide Motoki
Running Time: 106 mins
It All Began When I Met You is a Japanese film about the stories of ten different people, whose love interconnects in and around Tokyo Station in the days leading up to Christmas.
Taking from the irritatingly long tradition of romantic dramas with ten or more main characters set at Christmas, It All Began When I Met You is an exceedingly cheesy film that really lacks in every basic emotional or storytelling sphere. Although it pulls off the cosy Christmas atmosphere fairly well, and features the odd nice performance, it’s a film that never manages to captivate you with its story, instead going through all the generic motions again and again.
All in all, this isn’t the greatest film, let alone the greatest Christmas movie of all. However, there are still a couple of small positives to take from it, above all, its cosy Christmas vibes. Even though it may not seem like Japan is the best country for a classic Christmas, It All Began When I Met You manages to hit the heartwarming vibes of the festival spot on, meaning that despite featuring a whole load of cheesiness throughout, there’s a nice and pleasant side to the movie that makes it a little more enjoyable.
What’s more is that, in tandem with the cutesy Christmas vibes, a lot of the performances here are pretty nice too. Although I can’t say any of the actors do an outstanding job, and none of the characters really stick out in my mind after watching the movie, the majority of the cast is smiley and cheesy enough (in a good way) that you don’t have to take things too seriously, leaving you to sit back and enjoy the Yuletide niceties.
However, just being cute and smiley isn’t really good enough, and the film’s shallow and fairly lazy issues do shine strong alongside the nice bits. Above all, the film suffers from the same issue as so many of these multi-romantic dramas, the failure to balance out its many characters.
With at least ten major characters (if I remember correctly), this film is an absolute mess when it comes to delivering engaging character development or drama. All of the characters’ stories are so generic and cheesy that there’s not much reason to stay interested, so unlike the likes of Love Actually, where at least some characters were occasionally entertaining to watch, there’s no point in the movie where I actually cared for what was going on and what would happen to the characters, worsened by the fact that it’s plainly obvious from the outset anyway given how generic the story is.
What’s more is that, as dull as all of the characters’ stories are, they’re all pretty much the same. With a collection of romantic clichés thrown every which way, the film doesn’t do enough to disperse them between stories, instead trying to cram every cliché into every story. Not only is that really annoying to see, but it also means you have to watch different characters have the exact same things happen to them again and again.
Overall, I wasn’t all that impressed by It All Began When I Met You. Yes, it’s a smiley, cosy and pleasant-natured movie, however it completely fails to provide a genuinely engaging or even original story, instead replaying the same romantic drama clichés again and again, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.2.