Anyone attempting to bring a Murakami Haruki novel to the silver screen deserves to be recognized for undertaking a fantastically difficult task. Much of what happens in The stories presented to us is made both complex and enjoyable not only by the originality and depth of the characters in the books but also the forces, both social and circumstantial that prod and push them into sometimes incredible situations. Murakimi's use of nature and geography- a very Japanese trait- also becomes a living, breathing entity which encapsulates the the story and gives it the surreal feeling that almost anyone who describes his stories inevitably feels.
While Anh Hung Tran’s cinematography is absolutely amazing and the panoramic scenes imbibe us with the elemental power of breathtaking beauty, the movie's characters fall far from short from the depth in which Murakami describes them. There is almost no hint as to how the relationships between Toru Watanabe and Naoko, Midori, Reiko, Kizuki, Nagasawa and even the Storm Trooper and the circumstances of his life; both in the past and present, as well as the forces that contribute to all of his interpersonal relationships with these other members of the cast drive them along to the inevitable outcomes described by Murakami in his book.
The actors and actresses for the most part do a very good job and you can feel the tension and desperation as they portray the difficulties anyone experiences (especially teenagers) when having to deal with each other, the needs, desires, differences in personality and of course, the baggage that comes along with life. There was, I felt, a lack of angst, futility and boredom that is so often described in the novel.
If I am to point out the one part of the movie I found to be most distressing it would have to be the lack of any serious development of Reiko's part in the tale. To me, Reiko; as an adult the one anomalous character of the group- something apparent in almost every Murakami plot, was wholly left out of picture and the scene where she and Toru couple completely missed the mark in depicting the way our innate sexuality provokes us, heals us, confounds us or completely destroys us.