Shunji Iwai is known for his lengthy films, and sometimes certain scenes are superfluous. However, due to intricate interpersonal relationships and surprising turn of events, excess length can be forgiven. The first half hour of A Bride For Rip Van Winkle builds the characters but is largely forgettable in the overall plot. Once the story gets rolling, it is a sentimental look at life.

There is a vaguely feminine touch throughout. The scenery and camera angles tend to beautify female characters that would otherwise be utterly ordinary looking. The imagery feels almost subjective, as if seen through female eyes rather than interpreted by a male director. Adapted from Iwai’s novel, the story touches on illness and eccentricity. Two female outsiders meet and embark on a sweet journey. Their bond represents the pursuit of happiness and climaxes with the best non-sexual love scene ever.

A tip: Stay for the end credits. There’s a cute nod to an underlying feline motif.

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