Starring: Haruna Kawaguchi, Kento Yamazaki, Seika Furuhata
Director: Masanori Murakami
Running Time: 120 mins
One Week Friends is a Japanese film about a high school student who wants to become friends with a quiet girl in his class. However, he finds that the reason she stays away from her classmates is that she loses all of her memories every Monday, meaning she cannot establish any meaningful relations with those around her.
I wasn’t all impressed with this film. While it follows a premise that has worked well on previous occasions, I felt that One Week Friends failed to really give its plot a strong emotional core, with an overly drawn-out build-up followed by a rather inactive central act, and even though its characters and performances may prove likable, it doesn’t offer the intrigue or drama that it aims to show off.
Let’s start off on the bright side, however, with the performances. Although I can’t say that One Week Friends has the emotional depth to really engross you in the characters, the actors do a decent job at portraying the various personalities on display here. On the one hand, Kento Yamazaki is a likable and relatable presence as the male lead, with clearly good intentions surrounding his desire to become friends with the shy girl in class.
Meanwhile, Haruna Kawaguchi also proves an engaging lead as that shy girl, managing to convey a surprising amount of depth in a very silent performance, particularly in the first act when you’re still trying to get to grips with her condition, and why exactly she acts the way she does, which I found to be the film’s most interesting plot element.
The performances are definitely the strongest point of the film, but there’s also a case to say that its elegance and sweet, nostalgic qualities do help to engross you more in the story.
Now, while I can’t say that the story has the consistency or genuine depth to really prove an engrossing watch, the way in which it is presented is at least enjoyable. Sometimes it feels a little melodramatic, but the generally quiet and incredibly elegant atmosphere do go a long way to making it a more pleasant watch, and when mixed in with the nostalgia of high school romance, it’s at times a genuinely delightful film.
However, that’s only on the surface, and the truth is that One Week Friends just doesn’t have enough beneath the surface to really prove an engrossing watch. Although its premise proves interesting at first, the explanation of the girl’s situation is drawn out for far too long, over the course of a 45 minute opening act that just doesn’t have the development necessary to keep you properly engrossed.
Secondly, the direction that it takes in its second and third acts creates a rather underwhelming and jarring obstacle in the centre of the story. Yes, it doesn’t quite go the way you’d expect, but it still fails to really craft a convincing and ultimately impressive series of events that induce more interest, rather than leaving you with more frustrations.
And finally, while the film’s elegance is a delightful quality, the fact that it’s directed as a very serious romantic drama means that it loses a lot of the potential charm from the story. Yes, it does have sweet nostalgia, but I felt that with a little more levity, the film could have been a far more entertaining watch, rather than leaving you looking for dramatic depth in a rather flawed piece.
Overall, I found One Week Friends a disappointing watch. With a premise similar to ones that have worked in other films, it’s a drama without real depth, and a romance without strong emotion, and despite two strong central performances and an elegant and sweet atmosphere, it’s the story that proves the film’s main pitfall, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.6.