I Just Wanna Hug You – 抱きしめたい ―真実の物語― (2014) Movie Review

I Just Wanna Hug You
I Just Wanna Hug You

Another tear-jerker of a movie crossed my path – and of course I enjoyed it immensely. Thanks to Hawaiian Airlines’ fantastic international service to KIX there were several movies to choose from, one of which was “I Just Wanna Hug You” (抱きしめたい ―真実の物語―) starring Kitagawa Keiko (北川 景子) as Tsukasa and  Nishikido Ryo (錦戸亮) as Masami.

It’s based on the tragic true story about a young woman who is involved in a car accident which leaves her partially paralyzed and brain-damaged. At the beginning of the movie we learn that Tsukasa has already died (her son and husband are talking in front of her memorial altar), and with that eventuality revealed, the story immediately shifts to focus on her and Masami’s relationship that begins several years earlier before they are married. It’s kind of predictable, but charming and enjoyable nonetheless, with many funny scenes and of course some romantic ones as well.

Kitagawa Keiko’s acting really stands out in this difficult role, depicting someone recovering from brain damage in a realistic but not over-the-top way. I was really rooting for her because of her positive and energetic attitude even in the face of these challenges. But holy cow, there is one scene where Tsukasa’s mom shows Masami a video of when Tsukasa was going through rehab. That was really powerful and tough to watch and I am getting sad just thinking about it now! However, it really was superb acting on Kitagawa’s part. I’ve become a huge fan of hers!

Kitagawa Keiko in Dakishimetai: Shinjitsu no Monogatari
Kitagawa Keiko in Dakishimetai: Shinjitsu no Monogatari

Nishikido Ryo also does a fine job as Masami, the man who falls in love with Tsukasa at first sight and pursues her 100%. His is a more straightforward role, but still something that many of us can relate to easily. In fact, I think I had the same head-over-heels kind of feeling towards Mariko as Masami had for Tsukasa! Maybe that is one reason I really liked “I Just Wanna Hug You”.

What made the movie even more moving to me was that I hadn’t seen my family in over a month and was getting closer to them every second (at Mach 8.1 according to the in-flight map!). As I alluded to in a previous blog post, I have become more emotional the more years I put on. Sometimes to the point where I read something vaguely sad in the news and then I feel a wave of emotion coming on. It’s really weird, for me at least. I’m a quiet person and was never really openly emotional or passionate growing up, so wow this is all kind of new, and not at all unpleasant, really. It’s like life is really happening and stories are being written, good and bad.

Just as in this movie, life is unpredictable but I think we make choices or shape our thoughts which can turn situations, even unpleasant ones, into those worth appreciating. Even though Tsukasa is dealt a pretty terrible hand in life, she works hard to better her situation and her life was dramatically improving. It was so sad that she passed away, especially due to the rare condition (which was totally unrelated to her disabilities).

I try to learn something from things I observe or in this case, a movie I watched, in order to better my life and those around me. From “I Just Wanna Hug You”, Tsukasa’s positive determination and Masami’s straighforward devotion show me truly admirable qualities and maybe something that all of us can strive for.

My rating: 8.5/10

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