You'll have to solve Judge David Johnson's riddles to cross the Harimaya Bridge. Or best him in a game of Crossfire!
How much could you forgive?
West meets East in this Danny Glover-produced examination of prejudice and forgiveness.
Facts of the Case
Daniel Holder (Ben Guillory, The Color Purple) is grief-stricken. His estranged son, who had moved to Japan to teach English, was killed in a car accident. In a desperate bid to preserve his memory, Daniel heads over to the Land of the Rising Sun to track down and collect his son's paintings. With him, he brings a burning resentment towards the entire Japanese people because of what happened to his father in World War II. His bias takes a back seat when a shocking revelation reveals itself and Daniel will be forced to reconcile a bevy of complex emotions and maybe even come to the realization that a modern culture shouldn't be blamed wholesale for the sins of its forebears, especially since said modern culture is like totally our BFF.
Here's the capsule review: The Harimaya Bridge is an earnest effort with a good heart that is ultimately hamstrung by some shaky writing and acting. What at first holds the promise of a quiet, emotional endeavor just can't quite overcome an amateurish feel.
I can't dispute Guillory's pedigree, but the truth is I had trouble connecting with him here. He's tasked with heavy-lifting in the emoting department and shifts dramatically between "so-pissed-he-looks-like-he's-chewing-on-deck-screws" and "near-tears-distressed" with not a whole lot of nuance in between.
Then again, he's probably just doing what is asked of him. Writer/director Aaron Woolfolk obviously has a strong connection to the material, but it gets away from him. Instead of offering a streamlined little tale of redemption and the human experience, his film clocks in at a too-long 120 minutes, with much of the runtime saddled with saccharine dialogue strained line-readings. This is exemplified by an excruciating scene in a Japanese cemetery, where Daniel is shown the gravestones of soldiers from World War II by his Japanese guide and he is gob-smacked by the notion that the Japanese would bury their dead. See, because, and this is a direct quote, "They're the bad guys!" His guide immediately counters with some stuff about how American soldiers are psychotics and rapists too and that shows Daniel! What a terrible scene.
And I'm having a hard time believing that Daniel has held onto his blood grudge against the Japanese people for so long. His father perishing in a POW camp is awful, I understand, but it's not like Tokyo is currently overrun with Hirohito propaganda these days. Daniel just comes across as petty and detached with his prejudice.
But without it you don't have a movie, so we'll just roll right to the ending, which, I will confess, packs a satisfyingly dramatic wallop. Again, it's easy to see coming and not very subtle, though I won't deny its effectiveness. If only Woolfolk had pruned his creation a bit more…
A decent Blu-ray awaits: a crystal-clear, 1.78:1 1080p transfer brings Japan to life and is supported by a quiet but effected Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track. Extras: director's commentary, a robust making-of documentary and cast and crew interviews.
A noble intent just isn't enough. Skip it.
This Bridge needs some infrastructure repair.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.