Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Takayuki Yamada, Jiro Sato
Director: Yûichi Fukuda
Running Time: 114 mins
50 First Kisses is a Japanese film about a man who meets a beautiful young woman in a café while living in Hawaii, but despite his desire to build a relationship with her, he discovers that she suffers from memory loss that wipes all of her memories from the previous day.
Much like its source material, 50 First Dates, 50 First Kisses is both a delightful and hugely entertaining romantic comedy, filled with wonderful characters and great, light humour right the way through, as well as a collection of brilliant performances that all come together to make a truly lovely way to spend two hours.
That’s not to say that it’s a work of cinematic art, but the fact is that this film is there to make you smile. Much like the American original, the premise may seem cheesy at first, and a little ridiculous, but the way in which the story manages to extract so much heart from what seems like a predictable premise is what makes this such a great film throughout.
Above all, it’s that upbeat and lightweight atmosphere that makes it all work so well. The Hawaii setting, the easy-going humour, and the somewhat fantastical premise surrounding a woman who loses her memories every 24 hours all make for a film that you can just sit back and enjoy, and never take too seriously, all the while allowing you to form a wonderful connection with the film’s delightful protagonists.
Of course, better films would have more emotional depth, however 50 First Kisses is in the end a film that’s all about making you smile. There is still good emotion throughout, and the final act in particular is a rather romantic piece, managing to strike a good balance between genre tropes and excessive sentimentality.
Another plus comes in the form of the comedy. It’s not quite laugh-out-loud hilarious from beginning to end, but there’s a whole host of really funny running gags throughout, as well as a couple of character’s relationships – particularly that of our main man and the father and brother of the woman he falls for – that make for fantastic laughs right the way through.
And then there’s the performances, which are also excellent. In the lead role, Takayuki Yamada is really likable throughout, with a confident and charismatic performance that feels very distant from typical rom-com male leads, and sets the film apart from Adam Sandler’s excellent turn in the original. Masami Nagasawa also impresses as the woman of his affections, with a strong turn that puts her own character’s emotions right at the centre of attention, and her endless lovability means this isn’t all about Yamada and his love, but rather both as individuals, and together.
I had a lot of fun with 50 First Kisses, and it really surpassed my expectations again as the original film did. In all truth, I felt that it occasionally lacks the same charisma and confidence as the original, with some of the lead character’s back story feeling a little forced and underemphasised, and some of the comedy not sticking quite as well as the original manages to do.
With that said, however, this film is here to make you laugh, smile and feel good, and it does just that right the way through, using a great story to great effect once again, and featuring great performances that make some wonderful humour work excellently throughout, which is why I’m giving 50 First Kisses a 7.7 overall.