“Amiko” – 2018 Hong Kong International Film Festival Review


Following Amiko through her angst-driven, 66-minute journey to get over her lost love – who never was quite that in the first place – is equivalent to a Japanese adolescent’s realization of a Taylor Swift music video.  What should remain as inner thoughts turn into actual soliloquy and dialogue as the titular character of Yoko Yamanaka’s debut film attempts to figure out just what went wrong in her pursuit of a popular classmate.

“Amiko” may be uneven in parts, particularly in its cinematography and pacing, but that quality merely adds to the Nagoya teenager’s eccentricity as played out on screen.  After having what she considers to be some rather philosophical discussions with Aomi (Hiroto Oshita), Amiko (Aira Sunohara) is convinced that she has found her soul mate.  She confides in a couple of friends.  She waits for him to make a move.  Weeks pass.  Months pass.  Aomi not only has gone silent, but he seems to have disappeared.

At this point, passivity suddenly gives way to anxiety and, ultimately, drastic measures on Amiko’s part.  Hers is a journey that, for those years removed from her demographic, one can perhaps look back on, relate to, and either cringe or laugh out loud at the audacity.  But for those in the thick of it like Amiko herself, taking that tentative step forward really is a personal milestone.  Speaking of which, “Amiko” is an auspicious debut for Yamanaka, herself a Nagoya native who is only 20 years old.

“Amiko” screens at the 2018 Hong Kong International Film Festival on Mar. 29 at 9:45 p.m., and Apr. 1 at 12 p.m.  For tickets, go to hkiff.org.