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Life Tears in Heaven

Directed by SHINJO Takehiko

Release
Original Title:
Life 天国で君に逢えたら
© 2007 TOHO / TBS / DENTSU / MBS / CBC / RKB / HBC / Sunny Side Up / Asahi Shimbun / Yahoo! JAPAN © 2007 TOHO / TBS / DENTSU / MBS / CBC / RKB / HBC / Sunny Side Up / Asahi Shimbun / Yahoo! JAPAN

Story

Aspiring to become the first world-ranking professional windsurfer from Japan, Natsuki Iijima was continually on the road with his wife. Compared to professional surfing, travel expenses were paid out of one’s own pocket and the prizes were much lower for windsurfing competitions. Life for Hiroko and Natsuki, who had a hard time winning, was both difficult and impoverished. They could not even afford a wedding ceremony. Natsuki wanted to win for Hiroko who unconditionally supported him. Natsuki, therefore, decided to give up on his dream if he could not win the next race.

The day before the Australia World Cup. Natsuki’s former teacher Hiroshi Todou and his wife Reiko, came to watch Natsuki windsurf. Seeing Todou for the first time in a while, Natsuki conveyed his enthusiasm for this race. However, hearing the meticulously-calculated race strategy, Todou gave some advice, “You are bad at calculating, aren’t you?”. Don’t think about anything, and just ride while feeling the wind and the waves. Naturals must compete naturally.” Upon hearing these words, Natsuki finally remembered “my own riding technique” and successfully won. In a church in Hawaii, Natsuki and Hiroko finally had their long-awaited wedding ceremony.

Blessed with four children, Konatsu, Hiro, Goro, and Tamaki; Natsuki bought a large house in Hawaii. For a while, they enjoyed their day-to-day lives, but away competitions and other commitments often kept the now-famous Natsuki absent from the home. Witnessing Hiroko left behind to run the household alone, the eldest 10-year-old daughter, Konatsu’s discontent grew to where she hated windsurfing.

One day, while Natsuki is away, a hurricane strikes and Hiroko is injured as a result. After nonchalantly returning home, Natsuki is shocked to find the horrible condition of the house, but Hiroko was worried about something else. Hiroko knew that Natsuki would say that he was at away competitions; however he did not actually enter any races. When Hiroko confronts him and says that she would prefer he admit that he is worried about losing, Natsuki explodes with anger. Witnessing this chain of events, Konatsu is shocked and runs out of the house.

Running after her, Natsuki spots Konatsu in a tree and convinces her to come home. Moved by the site of Natsuki’s outstretched hand as it begins to rain, Konatsu is finally ready to come down. However, Natsuki collapses in front of her. Natsuki is taken to the nearest hospital but decides to undergo a more thorough physical examination by returning to Japan alone.

Natsuki is diagnosed with a complicated form of hepatocellular carcinoma. In order for Natsuki to receive treatment, the family also returns to Japan. He undergoes major surgery that requires 130 stitches, but even after the surgery, he is readmitted several times. Hiroko hears from Natsuki’s attending physician that Natsuki has “three months to live”. Unable to see improvement from the treatment, Natsuki experiences panic attacks and falls into a depression. In spite of everything else, Hiroko receives word that Todou, his mentor, has died of leukemia. Overwhelmed with this news, Natsuki runs out of the house and is nearly hit by a car. A huge sense of fear, overcomes Hiroko.

However, she is comforted by Reiko at Todou’s funeral. Hiroko vows to help Natsuki fight the disease and live life hopefully after she becomes aware of Konatsu’s distress from her father’s impending death.

One day, Hiroko drags Natsuki outside. As usual, he is sanctioned up in his room. They head for the ocean.

At the ocean, Natsuki is amazed to see Konatsu desperately practicing the windsurfing that she had previously loathed. In an effort to raise Natsuki’s spirits, Konatsu enlisted the help of Natsuki’s friend, Shinoda, and had been practicing every day. By exposing Konatsu’s efforts to Natsuki, Hiroko was conveying that “you are not the only one suffering” and the family was one whole unit. Natsuki ran over to Konatsu, who had been thrown into a wave at that moment. As he hugged Konatsu, Natsuki made a decision.

Natsuki refused life-prolonging treatment and decided to return to Hawaii with the family. He began to look at each and every letter he received through his homepage and saw that his diary was a source of comfort for his fans. He committed his time to responding to each letter daily. Seeing this, Hiroko jokingly tells Natsuki, “You’ve never even sent me a single letter.”

Natsuki’s birthday. His friends all gather in Hawaii for a surprise party on the bay. It was a plan to get Natsuki to ride on a board for the first time in a long while. Initially, he was clumsy, but then, Natsuki rode the wind like he used to. The greatest smile was embraced by the sun’s blinding light.

One morning, Hiroko enters the bedroom with a letter in hand from a publisher stating that Natsuki’s essays are going to be turned into a book. In the blowing wind, looking as though he were asleep, Natsuki has died. Hiroko discovers a letter, his first and last. In the letter that begins “Dear Hiroko-san”, he wrote of the sadness in parting with his children, but also reflects on how his illness enabled him to experience the happiness of strengthened family ties. Natsuki wrote of his feelings for the children, and finally, he expressed his feelings for Hiroko. “If we were able to meet again someday, I would propose again. Let’s meet again in heaven.”

Believing in such a reunion, Hiroko and the children broadly smile as they wave their arms and Hiroko scatters Natsuki’s ashes into the ocean.

Cast

OSAWA Takao

IIJIMA Natsuki

ITO Misaki

IIJIMA Hiroko

Data

Director
SHINJO Takehiko
Original Story
IIJIMA Natsuki
Producer
HIRANO Takashi
ICHIKAWA Minami
NIHIRA Tomoyo
SATO Takahiro
Screenplay
SAITO Hiroshi
YOSHIDA Tomoko
Music
YOSHIMATA Ryo
Cinematography
SAITO Koichi
Lighting
SEKI Teruhisa
Production Design
KANEKATSU Koichi
Recording
IKA Makio
Visual Effects
HIRAGANE Soichiro
VFX Supervisor
TATEISHI Masaru
Editing
FUKAZAWA Yoshifumi
Japan Release Date
2007.08.25
Running time
118min