Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hana and Alice (Shunji Iwai, 2004)

Hana and Alice (Shunji Iwai, 2004)
Rating: 6.9

Referential Meaning:
Best friends, Hana and Alice, enter high school and develop a crush on a boy named Miyamoto. After the boy is knocked unconscious from walking into a wall, Hana manages to convince him that he has amnesia and she is in fact his girlfriend. The farce continues as Hana’s lies become more complex. She convinces Alice to act as Miyamoto’s ex-girlfriend in order to keep up her charade. Things are complicated even more when Miyamoto and Alice begin to have feelings for each other which jeopardizes the girl’s friendship. Realizing the importance of their friendship, the two girls set aside their differences; Miyamoto comes to this conclusion as well and stays with Hana.

Explicit Meaning:
Two Best Friends, cope with adolescence, high school, hormones, becoming more independent, and developing their own distinct personalities. At the beginning of the film, Hana and Alice are almost inseparable, but once they start high school, they begin to grow apart. Hana begins spending her Miyamoto and the story club, while Alice has sitar classes and modeling auditions on her mind. During a scene when Alice calls Hana to come to an audition with her, Hana responds by telling her that “she can’t...We are grown up...not, not glued together, but still friends.” Alice faces the adult world not only in terms of pursuing a modeling career, but also in that she is neglected by her single mother and rarely sees her father. Her home is covered in filth, her mother is constantly seeing men, and Alice does the cooking it seems. In one scene her mother even explains to her “date” that Alice is the neighbor girl rather than admitting that she is her daughter.

Implicit Meaning:
Memory is subjective. Miyamoto’s relationships with Hana and Alice almost rely entirely upon the lies Hana convinces him to believe. In actuality, Miyamoto didn’t even remember Hana’s name even though he met her in the story club earlier. Alice and her father shared a similar experience. Alice vividly remembers the day at the beach when they played cards and the wind blew them away, while her father has absolutely no recollection of this cherished memory of hers. Towards the end of the film, Hana is reminded of a time in her past when she was a recluse, until she began ballet with Alice. The photographs of the ballet girls trigger the fond memories of her friendship with Alice.

Symptomatic Meaning:
There is no such thing as perfection. Although Hana and Alice appear normal, things are revealed about them throughout showing otherwise. Alice’s family life is in shambles, while Hana weaves a web of lies to get her way. Despite all of the lies and deception, Hana and Miyamoto end up staying together, and Hana and Alice it seems will remain best friends. During the final sequence Alice performs a beautiful ballet dance and makes the cover of a magazine. The film ends with the two girls laughing as they discover Alice has a noticeably large pimple on her nose in the photo.

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