Box art for Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood

  • Rated NR

independent, special interest

Watanabe lives with the influence of death everywhere. That is, until Midori, a girl who is everything that Naoko is notoutgoing, vivacious, and supremely self-confidentmarches into his life and Watanabe must choose between his past and his future.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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    reviews counted: 20
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  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: A visually stunning and moving piece of storytelling bolstered by searing performances and a standout score by Jonny Greenwood.

- Alonso Duralde, TheWrap, Friday, January 6, 2012

Fresh: Maybe this was the project Tran has been waiting for. I rate this the best film of his non-prolific career by far.

- Andrew O'Hehir,, Friday, January 6, 2012

Rotten: It becomes a film that, like its characters, remains elusive in its motivations and therefore detached from its audience.

- Bruce Demara, Toronto Star, Thursday, March 1, 2012

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Tran Anh Hung's adaptation of Haruki Murakami's book is often poetic and visually spectacular film to watch. There is so much to admire here but Norwegian Wood is not without it's flaws and those flaws become extremely problematic after a while. Hung's film does capture the doom and angst of this dramatic story but it does not really connect when it comes to characters. It is so very hard to care enough of anyone to truly be move about these peoples lives. There are also times when the majestic, loud and overblown music by Jonny Greenwood almost captures all the attention from the story and leaves only a hollow shell to admire. The further this film goes the more sillier sulking in it gets. Within final twenty minutes this film reaches epic heights for it's melodramatic scenes which goes overboard and turns almost Norwegian Wood into self parody. Lead actors Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara are all beautiful to watch but their performances does not actually capture the true feel of loss, pain and longing for love. Especially Kikuchi does have tendency to go overboard here. I admire this film's ambition but Hung cannot really make this film nothing more than a fragmented series of beautiful and grim moments.

- emilkakko, Monday, October 22, 2012

3 stars

"The grief over a death of someone you loved can never be healed. We can only live with the sorrow and learn something out of it." Upon hearing the song "Norwegian Wood," Toru (Matsuyama) remembers back to his life in the 1960s, when his friend Kizuki killed himself and he grew close to Naoko, Kizuki's girlfriend. As the two try, in very different ways, to contend with their grief, Toru forms a bond with another woman, Midori. REVIEW Its hard to review a film like this when you've been looking forward to it so much. While its not my favorite of his books, I'm a big Haruki Murakami fan, and I love Anh Hung Tran's earlier films - I thought this was potentially a match made in heaven. The film is good - very good. Just not the great film I'd hoped it would be. There are wonderful scenes and great acting, and the cinematography is beautiful. But I think there are some major flaws. The flow of the film is oddly disjointed at times - while the book is very much written from the perspective of an older, wiser man looking back at his immature youth, the film seems unsure of its own perspective. The voice-over is poorly structured, seemingly aimed at filling in narrative gaps rather than giving us the older narrators overview. Oddly for Tran, a director who has been extremely minimalist in the past, some scenes are far too overwrought, not helped by the intrusive and anachronistic score. The casting is also uneven - Rinko Kikuchi is a marvelous actress, but is simply too old to play a convincing 20 year old. The character of Reiko is also played by an actress much younger than the character in the book, but the part hasn't been changed accordingly. That said, Kenichi Matsuyama as Toru and in particular Kiko Mizuhara as Midori are terrific. I really don't know how someone who doesn't know the book will react to this. I suspect that if you are a romantic at heart, you will like it, even if you find it a bit overlong and some of the characters too thinly drawn. Fans of the book will mostly love it as it is quite faithful (maybe too faithful) to the story.

- LorenzoVonMatterhorn, Monday, August 8, 2011

2 stars

Ive never seen such a terrible and painful adaptation like this Norwegian Wood. Haruki Murakamis novel, even if full of literary references, is still an easy or accessible book what, I knew, could be used for the best or for the worst. The thing is that what I expected of worst was a sort of pretentious indie film and not that Anh Hung Tran would kill the main points and characteristics of the story to transform it in a beautiful and acceptable garbage. Who claims that the film is faithful to the novel, probably have not read it, unless the English translation is really that different from the original in Japanese.* If you havent read Murakamis novel, you can like this film. If you did, youll feel like killing youself and right in the first scenes. Nagazawa would never, never, say that "Life is short. There's no sense in wasting time on books in a sense of time is absent." When I did finally meet the one person in my world who had read Gatsby, he and I became friends because of it. His name was Nagasawa. (...) He was a far more voracious reader than me, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least 30 years. "That's the only kind of book I can trust," he said. "It's not that I don't believe in contemporary literature," he added, "but I don't want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short." "What kind of authors do you like?" I asked, speaking in respectful tones to this man two years my senior. "Balzac, Dante, Joseph Conrad, Dickens," he answered without hesitation. How to take it serious and keep watching a film that visibly pretends nothing but please the mass? Perhaps, everything is allowed in an adaptation, but to completely change the story is going too far. Nagazawa is only one of the many faults. Naoko and Midori are played by very beautiful girls, but Midori is too far away of the "complexity" of her character. The fact that she is always smiling when Naoko has her dark moments doesnt say anything at all. Simplistic justifications, simplistic and nave love stories when Torus relationship with both Naoko and Midori and even with life itself was much more complex. Oh, and I will not even mention Reiko that simple and totally loses all her importance here. Shallow chords and a trivial course. *I just got a PDF copy of the English translation and now I can say with conviction that no, its not that different from the one I read. Those who think that the film is faithful to the book, or did not read it or really dont have any sense of anything. ** The Beatles Norwegian Wood was Naokos favorite song that Reiko only played when she asked her to because the song put Naoko very sad.

- 5oclockcoffee, Sunday, May 1, 2011