The Case of Hana & Alice Film Review

   There are a number of ways each of us seek escapism from the cruelty of the real world.

   To many of us, particularly readers of this site, cinema and the fantastic universes found reflecting from the silver screen grant solace in our most wounded hours. To others, totting up Instagram likes for sharing selfies of one's selves posing in only slightly air-brushed photos brings joy. Train spotting or stamp collecting, reading novels or jogging, their are countless ways to distract ourselves from our troubles.

   For Tetsuko Arisugawa, or "Alice" for short, her comfort is dance. A new student, having moved town with her recently divorced mother, Alice is taunted by bullies throughout the day at school. The discipline and euphoria of the total control over one's body, the reverie and energy of dance, bring pleasure to a life of sadness.

   Yet, to add to her sorrows, the 14 year old discovers the legend of Yuda - a schoolgirl who suddenly vanished one day with the myth she was murdered by four of her class-mates. Hana, a recluse who lives in a house bedecked with flowers, seemingly holds the key to the enigma. In light of the strange rumours, has Alice finally found a friend? And can they solve the troublesome mysteries together?

   Shunji Iwai's film, a prequel to his 2004 movie Hana & Alice, is a beautifully shot roto-scoped animation - one which blends a sense of realism with an Eastern-inflected watercolour-esque hue. Most pleasingly however, despite a plot which bears a superficial resemblance to a Scooby Doo, Iwai's film is first and foremost a touching character study of the bond between two adolescents struggling through a difficult period in their life. The contemplative story moves with a languid pace as scenes unfold as slowly as one season transitioning to the next. A melancholy score grants pathos too whilst we witness a friendship blossom into something radiant.

   For anyone familiar with Iwai's previous (non-animated) movies - including Love Letter and Swallowtail Butterfly - the director's tone and sincerity will be instantly recognisable here. For those not familiar with Iwai's work, The Case of Hana & Alice marks a great starting point for a new adventure.


Official Coverage Credit: ASIA HOUSE FILM FESTIVAL takes place from 22 February to 5 March at London venues - http://asiahouse.org/ 
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