The Harimaya Bridge – the fine art of storytelling

Even without knowing in advance that filmmaker Aaron Woolfolk was heavily inspired by the legendary director Akira Kurosawa, something about his debut feature THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE called to mind films by Kurosawa like DREAMS and RHAPSODY IN AUGUST. It's nothing on the surface of the movie that can be quickly interpreted or discerned. It's something much more subtle and nuanced that comes through in the very natural pacing of the story and the sensitive development of its characters. It also seems to come through in the deep level of attention that Woolfolk, like his cinematic inspiration, pays to the sumptuous rural settings chosen for this film that reflect the Japan of old through modern eyes–as opposed to the country's more often seen urban environs. All this, however, isn't meant to say that THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE, Woolfolk's first feature, is a flawless masterpiece. It isn't. But it is a very masterful directorial debut that is often as visually stunning as it is emotionally stirring. With a fantastic cast that includes Ben Guillory, Saki Takaoka, Misa Shimizu and Danny Glover (also the film's producer), THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE is a densely layered portrait of the extended human family that touches on a complex variety of themes, including romantic and familial love, bigotry, loss, sorrow, discovery, tradition, and the unexpected bridges that can lead us to redemption and forgiveness. I highly and enthusiastically recommend this film. SP

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