Generally, whilst I really enjoy Japanese romance and melodrama films, I find that there are a number of cliches that recur in many of them and so I don't usually have high expectations. I'd heard really good things about 'Crying out love' though and for the most part it didn't disappoint.
'Crying out love at the centre of the world' or '世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ’ ('Sekai no chuushin de ai wo sakebu' from which the english title has been literally translated), is a Japanese melodrama film based on a novel by Kyoichi Katayama (片山 恭一) which sold over 3 million copies in Japan. It is directed by Isao Yukisada (行定 勲). I think it's usually better not to know too many plot details before seeing a film, but I will say that the theme of love and nostalgia is what it primarily deals with. Can love survive after you've lost the person you loved? How are you supposed to deal with those feelings and was it better to never have loved at all? Plot aside, these questions are what the film is really about.
I think nostalgia is a pretty big theme in Japanese culture in general actually. We don't often use the word nostalgia in English but the Japanese word for it 'natsukashii/ 懐かしい' is used often in conversation in Japan. When I was in Japan I remember getting a lot of letters from people who were actually still close by at different points, either good bye letters, or thank you letters or happy new year post cards (年賀状). Whilst part of this I'm sure is to do with Japanese customs in showing gratitude, I think it also has something to do with commemorating different times you've had together. Many Australians I know have the impression that Japanese people tend to take a lot of photos and of things (like food) which they wouldn't necessarily think of taking a photo of. Although this is probably largely to do with the fact that most Japanese people Australians meet are tourists in Australia, I think that in general the Japanese people I know still do take a lot more photos within Japan during their daily lives than the Australians I know. Again, my theory on this is that it has something to do with the Japanese culture of commemorating and remember past events.
With that in mind, I liked that this film dealt with those kinds of themes. I felt like because of that it explored an element of human experience which Japanese people seem to have a strong connection with and was therefore a very worthwhile piece of story telling. Maybe I'm just thinking too hard about it though.
For english speaking and particularly Australian audiences, the ending of the film might be a little cringe worthy unfortunately. I'd really like to know why, in the last scene, they didn't end up actually going to Uluru (they'd already flown all the way to Australia, you'd think they could just wait for the car to be fixed!). I have a sneaking suspicion it had more to do with not being able to film there for some reason, rather than a conscious decision in how the plot would go.
I kind of wish the film hadn't gone on for as long as it did, because there was this really well-done climactic scene in the middle with beautiful shadows of raindrops going down a curtain of a school gym as the protagonist, Sakutaro, literally faces his past (I mean literally there, you'll have to watch it to see what I mean). I did also really enjoy the next climax where an old photographer played by Tsutomu Yamazaki/ 山崎 努 (who is also in 'Departures', 'Kurosagi' and a number of other good films), basically (without giving too much away) tells Sakutaro where it's at in terms of life and death and love in the most gruff manner possible. So it would have been great if it had ended somewhere around there as it did drag a little.
Overall though, excellent performances (in particular I was impressed by Masami Nagasawa/ 長澤 まさみ who I used to not like so much but I've completely changed my mind after seeing her talent as a young actress in this film), well shot, engaging characters (especially Aki, she is an awesome female lead) and it's nice to see a romance from the guys perspective (guys fall in love too, right?).