The Norwegian Wood is a 2010 film directed by Tran Anh Hung, based on the Haruki Murakami novel Norwegian Wood published in 1987.

Norwegian Wood Movie screen capture

Last week, I happened to watch Norwegian Wood. I know it has been around for a long time, but part of me always thought a Norwegian Wood movie adaptation wouldn’t do well. I read the novel of this film and it is laden with metaphors, so I was unsure how they could successfully deliver the atmosphere and hidden meanings of the book.

Regardless, I watched it.

Surprisingly, it has remained faithful to the book. Every scene from the book was there. The timeline and order are also accurate to the book. But I can’t help but think that some books are meant to stay written.

While watching the movie, the scenarios didn’t add up. For example, the scene where Naoko couldn’t open up to her dead boyfriend no matter how much she wanted to—they couldn’t have sex because she couldn’t get wet.

If you watched the movie without knowing who Murakami is as a writer, never heard nor read a book authored by him, this movie would seem outlandish. It would make you think that the movie seems crazy, weird, and stupid as if the characters were just a horny bunch of people.

Since the movie wasn’t able to fill the gaps of introspection and deeper themes of the book, it seems to highlight more of those sexual scenes rather than the whole psychological depth involved.

But if you have read the book, you understand that these situations have deeper meanings because we were able to read the introspection of the main characters and would not solely rely on the scripts that the movie characters are spewing.

Despite that, I would still claim that this movie still has its advantages if you think of it as accompanying the book or if you are a fan of the book. For me, the best advantage of this movie is the depiction of the setting. When I read, I can’t always visualize the exact setting the author describes, partly because I’m not familiar with the context or the country of the author. So, I couldn’t imagine how a character like Naoko dressed and wore sunglasses at school.

Overall, it’s great but not perfect and not a recommended watch unless you are a fan of Murakami.

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