Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Shôta Saitô, Keita Saitô
Director: Isshin Inudô
Running Time: 111 mins
Touch is a Japanese film about the story of two brothers and the girl nextdoor whom they both love, and the determination to fulfil a lifetime ambition after a terrible tragedy.
Based on a teenage manga, and put together with all the cheese you can typically expect from a Japanese teen romantic drama, Touch is generally an underwhelming and irritating watch, sacrificing interesting character development and conflict for a very predictable and emotionally lacking story, and although it may be light-hearted and occasionally cute enough to make you smile, it’s not a film that ever feels really worth the watch.
The problem is, as these Japanese romance movies tend to be recently, Touch is incredibly melodramatic, and it really doesn’t feel as if it deserves to be so. As I’ve said, the story is incredibly predictable, so all of the big romantic twists that the height of the drama is generally set around are very underwhelming, with characters acting as if they’re the biggest that’s ever happened, but feeling to you as a viewer far less impressive in any way.
Of course, with such heightened melodrama and romantic cheese comes a somewhat irritating movie. Now, Touch fortunately doesn’t quite get to shoving the cheese down your throat, meaning that it’s not a painfully irritating movie that you want to end as soon as it begins, but the relentless nature of its cheesiness in a series of situations that really don’t merit such melodrama is what makes it frustrating throughout.
Another big issue is that the characters aren’t in the slightest bit interesting, failing to ever break out from very traditional and predictable roles that you see in manga-based stories. On the one hand, you’ve got the two boys who are fighting for this one girl, acting as a combination between rowdy teenagers and love-smitten kittes. On the other, there’s the girl, who offers absolutely nothing more to the story than to stand around looking pretty and being the love interest, while occasionally shouting good luck to one of the boys.
For a romance movie to really work, the film has to convince you of how idyllic and angelic the love interest is, not craft a boring and stereotypical character that you’re just not interested in watching. It’s a shame, because Masami Nagasawa has proved to make this role work really well in films such as Wood Job!, bringing a lot more personality to a fairly shallow and stereotypical character, but that’s unfortunately not the case here.
So, it’s generally clear that the film takes itself a little too seriously, in having so much melodrama for a story that really doesn’t deserve as such. With that said, however, the only moments of enjoyment that I managed to find were from the movie’s more light-hearted moments.
They’re fairly few and far between, but whenever the film sits back a little with a nice joke or a smile, it’s a far more pleasant watch than the cheesy melodrama, leading me to believe that the film is one that really could have worked, had it not been for the choice to go so serious with the atmosphere, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0 overall.