Double Feature : When your life is the tale – 5 centimetres per second (2007) / Autograph (2004)

Welcome to the 13th edition of Double features! Here, we analyse two works of art that in hindsight have no relation with each other, but if you look into it there may be one or more factors that are uncannily similar! And no this is not a piracy call out but rather an interesting observation so that we can enjoy two movies which we would never relate otherwise!

The theme of this double feature is “When Your Life Is A Tale” – and like the title it means the whole movie is centred around the life and experiences of the main character. Of course we know a gazillion films like that, but this is a little more specific – here, the two movies revolve around the life of the main character and the women that come into his life as he goes through each phase of life, from youth to adulthood.

The movies in question this time are a Japanese anime film titled “5 centimetres per second” and a Tamil film from India, called “Autograph”. Usually I would classify these films in other categories but I’ve decided to post about them as a double feature. Of course you can check out all the anime I’ve explored by checking out the category Animezone, or all the Indian films on my blog by checking out The Indian Kaleidoscope, or a collection of all the movies I’ve done in The Movie Reel or more Double Features like these! Now onto the post!

5 centimetres per second (2007)

Before we start you can check out the OST on this YouTube playlist linked in the paragraph. I wasn’t able to find a Spotify link for the album unfortunately, if you do get it, let me know in the comments. My favourite songs from the OST are Kiss and Poem of Sky and Sea.

Release poster

Title : 5 Centimetres Per Second (English), 秒速5センチメートル (Japanese), Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru (Hepburn Romanization)

Country of origin : Japan

Language : Japanese, English

Directed, Written and Produced by : Makoto Shinkai

Japanese voice actors : Kenji Mizuhashi, Yoshimi Kondō, Ayaka Onouei, Satomi Hanamura

English voice actors (ADV Films Release) : David Matranga, Hilary Haag, Serena Varghese

English voice actors (Bang Zoom! entertainment release) : Johnny Yong Bosch, Erica Weinstein, Tara Platt, Kira Buckland

Music : Tenmon

Studio : CoMix Wave Inc.

Duration : 65 minutes

Release : 3 March 2007

Genre : Romance, Drama

Takaki Tōno voiced by Kenji Mizuhashi/David Matranga/Johnny Yong Bosch

The movie is split into three “acts” titled – “Cherry Blossom”, “Cosmonaut”, “5 centimetres per second”.

Act 1 depicts the childhood relationship between Takaki and Akari. As they are about to enter junior high, Akaki has to change schools due to her parents job. The two try to keep in touch with letters but soon start drifting apart. As Takaki comes to know that he and his family will be moving to an area in Japan far away from Tokyo soon, he decides to travel and meet Akaki and confess his feelings. The first act depicts his journey and meet-up with Akaki.

Akari Shinohara voiced by Yoshimi Kondō (Act 1)/Ayaka Onouei (Act 3)/Hilary Haag / Erika Weinstein (Act 1)/ Tara Platt (Act 3)

The second act takes place in his senior High at his new school as he seems to be sending mysterious emails to someone.

Kanae Sumida,a classmate of his is gathering her courage to express her feelings to him. The second act depicts her attempts and the results as she conveys her feelings to Takaki.

Kanae Sumida voiced by Satomi Hanamura / Serena Varghese / Kira Buckland

The third act depicts an unhappy Takaki who has broken up with his girlfriend.

His mind is always wondering what Akari is doing. The third and final act in the movie shows how both Takaki and Akari are as adults and their meet up, after many years.

Sounds quite simple right? And that’s exactly what it is, simple and beautiful. If you’re wondering why the movie and the final act are titled “5 centimetres per second” it’s because the movie starts Akari telling Takaki about how the speed at which cherry blossom petals fall is at the speed of 5 centimetres per second, and as they go on their summer vacation, she wishes to see the next season of cherry blossoms with him, but she ends up leaving and the story starts.

The thing about this story and many more that are based on the life and events of a simple character is that it mostly tries to stick to a very subtle and real feel, without too many or any dramatic elements at all, because that’s how real life is. This movie is a tale of, according to me, the acceptance of life as it is.

This movie also reminded me and many others of two other movies, namely , Your Name and The Garden of Words. Let me know in the comments which parts felt similar to you, I won’t say it here because I don’t like to spoil things!

Although we do have the introduction of Kanae Sumida in Act 2, my mind was completely focused on Takaki and Akari, the two central characters of the plot. Yes, Akari was mostly absent when you compare the screen time of Takaki but his constant thoughts about her, and how he just can’t seem to forget her kept her strong in our memories, especially since the story is being told with years on the running.

I loved the emotionaal, vulnerable and wistful nature of Takaki and how Akari like how he described her was her perfect friend, the exact puzzle piece that fits.

And you’ve probably heard this a lot, but the animation and the scenery in the movie, which also happens to be adaptations from real locations like the room in the station, the school, or the railway crossing were developed and presented so beautifully along with the gentle and mellow BGM from Tenmon. If I were to attach pictures of the sceneries I liked I might end up making this whole post full of pictures, it was very pleasing to the eyes.

All in all, if you want a peaceful, no-drama, slice of life, biography kind of film with some amazing visuals, I highly recommend this film. The film is brief but leaves a lasting impact on your mind. Also it’s execution has led to many “Ending explained” and theorising posts and videos on the internet. I’m not gonna talk about that here, but you can let me know in the comments!

Now onto movie #2!

Autograph (2004)

You can listen to the entire soundtrack on this compilation vidoe. For me, the most memorable songs are definitely Manasukullae Dhaagam Vanthicha and Ovvoru Pookalame. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a Spotify link for the album or the songs!

Release poster

Title : Autograph

Country of origin : India

Language : Tamil

Directed, Written and Produced by : Cheran

Starring : Chetan, Gopika, Sneha, Mallika

Music : Bharathwaj (Soundtrack) , Sabesh-Murali (BGM)

Cinematography : Ravi Varman, Vijay Milton, Dwarakanath, Shanky Mahendran

Released : 20 February 2004

Duration : 168 minutes

Genre : Romance, Drama

Cheran as Senthil Kumar

The protagonist of the story is Senthil Kumar who is seen at the start of the film board a train to his hometown, on a journey to invite all the important people in his life for his marriage.

The story centres around his various love interests while he was in school in his hometown, college in Kerala and work in the city, as he recounts his experiences and story with each woman and how they’ve influenced him to be the person he is today.

The title of “Autograph” is to indicate the small autograph books that we sign for our friends in schools and colleges at the end of an academic year as we say goodbye – this was before Facebook okay, we also used to call it “slam books” where we had our friends answer funny questions.

From left to right, Cheran as Senthil Kumar and Gopika as Lathika, his love interest during his college days

Like I mentioned for the first movie, this too has a very simplistic plot. It’s the story of Senthil Kumar’s life and the people that influenced him to be the man he is today. Unlike the previous film where we saw the character stay firm on his first love with passing time, here we see the character move on to different phases of his life as he starts living under new circumstances and new people.

I did mention the previous story felt like an acceptance of life, and compared to this, for me this had the reality factor in check more because of the fact that we could see the main character move on. Moving on is a natural process by which we wade through life. It’s also to be noted that the duration of this film is significantly longer, so although he acts opposite 4 women in teh story, it doesn’t feel absurd.

Cheran as Senthil and Sneha as Divya

But compared to the subtle depiction in the first movie, this one has amped up the drama elements a lot more, something typically expected in Indian films of that time.

The majority of the film is around the performance of Cheran (it is his characters life story after all), who delivered a consistent performance throughout the movie. I didn’t feel the acting was amazing, but it wasn’t horrible either, it didn’t disrupt my movie watching experience. On that note I did like the characters that Gopika and Sneha played and their performances although I was a little annoyed that both of them had to have not-so-happy endings – it felt more like the writer was trying to enforce the idea that their happiness is when only Senthil is with them? It’s just a thought, let me know what you felt in the comments.

The setting of the film also changes continuously with each passing phase in his life, from his hometown, to his college in Kerala, to his work, which was captured satisfactorily, when we take into consideration the style of the films of that era.

When you consider the time this movie was released it was quite different when compared to the style of the movies until then, so for the audience then this was a fresh change that was accepted.

If you’re looking for a long, detailed story of a man and the many people he meets and gets influenced by – a mix of an autobiography and a monologue of sorts – with a touch of Indian cinema from the early 2000s, this would be a film that could pique your interest!

And that’s a wrap for this double feature! What did you think? Have you watched this movie? Do you have similar suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Image courtesy : Google Image search

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