my first love
Tsuruoka Keiko is the director and writer of this adaption of Ivan Turgenev's novella of the same name. Her film class at Tokyo University of the Arts was assigned the task of adapting this story and hers was chosen for production while her classmates worked as the crew.
Kyoichi is a quiet and shy teen studying for his final high school exams. Megumi works in her sister's bar. The two meet because Kyoichi's mother has just inherited the building in which Megumi's bar is located. While Kyoichi's mother seems to be interested in little besides money and status, she is human enough to feel a little guilty about the planned eviction and uses Kyoichi as a messenger and delivery boy for bad news. It is love at first sight when he sees the vivacious Megumi and he begins to neglect his studies and to hang around with the motley characters who frequent the bar. Megumi's life has many sad elements and even though Kyoichi is unable to do much of anything (he can barely speak to her), she finds him a comfort.
I very much liked that Keiko retained the narrative framing device used by Turgenev and so often used in nineteenth century novels. Here, the film begins with the adult Kyoichi involved in a somewhat drunken discussion about first loves. He proceeds to tell the story which he hasn't thought about it years.
You can tell this was an inexpensive production - My First Love is not visually impressive. But simplicity suits the subject matter and the strong acting and pacing of the story make up for lack of budget. As a work of art this film is hardly revealing, but it certainly has sincerity and charm.