Horrid happenstance can sometimes get the better of us. We all have to do things we don’t enjoy. An unavoidable part of life is doing things we loathe in the vain hope of inspiring someone we fear. Most of us have to put up with tough deadlines, annoying colleagues, or just general grievances we have no choice in. There are few of us out there, though, that combat the same problems as our leading man in The Woodsman and the Rain. His tranquil life is usurped almost coincidentally when a film crew ask him to lend a brief hand. The spiral that soon follows is something even the workaholics among us will be alarmed by.
Katushiko (Koji Yakusho) is a freshman film director. Making his latest feature with the help of a local village, his eventual encounter with lumberjack Koichi (Shun Oguri), leads to a tumultuous series of events. That aforementioned tranquil life is thrown away entirely when this film crew comes to town. It’s a thoroughly interesting premise and gets off to an amicable start, but for me, it never manages to grip the entertaining moments. A stark number is lost to a void of underwhelming performances, forgettable and surprisingly bland for a film with such simple intricacy. Still, it could be a lot worse, our leading pair are well suited to one another, and carry most of the burden.
Shūichi Okita strikes me as an interesting director, I’m just not entirely sure he’s for me. The Woodsman and the Rain is missing that certain spark, something that’ll set it out from the rest of the light-hearted comedy drama’s that dominate the market. It is rather frustrating to sit through this one. You can see where all the formulaic material goes, and credit to Okita, as he does try and innovate with a few nice camera shots here or a bit of unique material there. It’s simply not enough, though, it doesn’t hold this project together for too long.
What frustrates me most about The Woodsman and the Rain, though, is that there is great room for a strong message. How we can be coaxed out of our isolated shells and into a surprise scenario where we can really strive. It’s never too late in life to find your calling, Koichi is walking evidence of that. Such evidence would be stronger if Okita had pulled it together with more confidence, and his lack of intrepid wit or voice harms this film far more than I’d first expected it to. Worth watching to some degree, it’s a fine film with a likeable leading pair. Devolving rather rapidly though, a strange film where the three-act structure descends into mediocre madness.