How to Create Myself of Tomorrow (Ashita no watashi no tsukurikata) How to Become Myself (2007) • Japan

There are two reasons to watch this movie, assuming of course that flicks about teen angst aren't off limits. The first reason is Riko Narumi. She's got looks, talent, and a maturity beyond her age which should protect her from catching disposable idol syndrome. She's got the skill to bring us inside the film and not question the all too common premise of how the best looking and smartest girl in class, who's from a well to do but unassuming family, can be an introverted social outcast. Her parents fight a little and that's what's got her down. It isn't until the second act, when the class prize loses her social standing allowing Narumi's character to sweep in and relate, that we become engaged and the film picks up its rhythm. And it does it through film technique more than simple storytelling.

The second reason to enjoy this film is the creative way director Jun Ichikawa has put the package together. He uses fades and split screens and shots about nothing all in the service of a poetic rhythm that carries the viewer from start to finish. The two girls don't just meet and bond. In fact, they live in different parts of the city and go to different schools. They communicate with one another via email and text messages. Narumi's character is an aspiring writer and she uses her skill to create a persona to share with her new friend. On one hand, she is trying to give her friend a role model, and on the other she is using the character as a vehicle to express the thoughts and feelings she doesn't have the confidence to own up to herself. Her friend likes the character Narumi has created so much she assumes its identity. Things get complicated and the girls have to finally give in and be themselves. It's not a challenging story but it is innovatively rendered and scored.

I prefer the literal, if a little overly formal, English translation of this film's title, How to Create Myself of Tomorrow, over the one you're likely to find on the DVD box in your favorite import video store, How to Become Myself. I think it better reflects the imaginative presentation of this lovely little teen flick.

Director: Jun Ichikawa
Starring: Riko Narumi, Atsuko Maeda, Mariko Ishihara, Yoshizumi Ishihara, Sosuke Takaoka

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