‘’Going the Distance’’ is Yujiro Harumoto’s first feature film, who is also responsible for the screenplay and the film editing. ‘’Going the Distance’’ had its world premiere on Tokyo International Film Festival’s Japanese Splash section and it’s French Premiere on Festival International des Cinemas d’Asie. This film is loosely based on the true story of the boxing trainer Shinichiro Matsuura, who also stars in the movie as Asahi.
‘’Going the distance’’ screened at Vesoul Interantional Film Festival of Asian Cinema
The story, as was already mentioned, concerns Asahi (Shinichiro Matsuura), an orphan boxing trainer at a gym, who moved to Tokyo from Goto islands and lives with his girlfriend Kaori (Yumi Endo), who is a secretary. Currently, Asahi and Kaori are preparing for their wedding, which is scheduled in six months and Kaori is hoping that her grandmother will still remember her until then, since she is suffering from dementia. In the meanwhile, Asahi introduces his childhood and best friend Hiroto (Masahiro Umeda) to Mr Kita (Nobu Morimoto), who presents himself as a chain restaurant owner. Hiroto becomes the fish supplier for his restaurants. Unfortunately, Hiroto gets scammed and Mr Kita disappears without paying him for four months. On top of that, Hiroto has taken a loan to buy a boat. Asahi feels responsible for what has happened to his best friend and tries to help him by giving him money and by tracking down Mr Kita. This creates a problem with his fiancé, as the possibility of him postponing the wedding gradually becomes a probability. Asahi is torn between his childhood friend and his future wife.
This dilemma is evident at first, and he tries to balance the two. Unfortunately, his method of choice, in order to please both, is not the best one; he tries to hide the truth and the problems that he is facing, from them and from everyone else. This leads to tension between him and his future wife and jeopardizes their relationship. Eventually, he realizes that it is better to talk about his difficulties and he decides to open up to his gym boss first, who in turn helps him find the whereabouts of Mr Kita. This realization underlines the importance of being sincere and always telling the truth to friends. Friends can and will help their close ones to face their problems and find possible solutions.
‘’Going the distance’’ is a movie that deals with the importance of friendship. The film highlights the fact that even the hardships that a true friendship goes through cannot shake it.
The problems with Asahi’s and Kaori’s relationship are indicated from the beginning and get enhanced when the issue with Hiroto arises. An example of the problems Asahi and Kaori are facing is Kaori’s mother, who is strongly against this wedding because of Asahi’s status. Asahi knows nothing about the severe relationship issues between Kaori and her mother. Moreover, there is a scene where Harumoto implies that either the couple is not in a relationship for a long time or they are, but do not actually know much about each other.
Harumoto communicates a clear message through Asahi and Kaori: A romantic relationship built on lies is bound to be unsuccessful.
The English title of the film ‘’Going the distance’’ is a boxing expression for completing fighting without being knocked out. This is a clever selection of a title and is both true and false for Asahi, the protagonist of the film.
Shinichiro Matsuura, who is a real-life boxing trainer, does a great job as Asahi and successfully makes an inherently unlikable character appear likable. Moreover, he presents Asahi’s psychosynthesis in an excellent way. It’s really hard to sympathize with a man who chooses to resort to lies to help his best friend and hides the truth from anyone, even if you can understand the reasons, but this is achieved due to his acting.
Masahiro Umeda as Hiroto is exceptional and is the most likable character in the movie. Only unintentionally he causes trouble to his friend’s romantic relationship. Even when Asahi yells at him, he understands his frustration and, regardless, gives him the draft speech for his wedding. Nobu Morimoto as Mr Kita and Yumi Endo as Kaori deliver also very convincing performances.
Yujiro Harumoto prefers a shaky, hand-held camera approach in order to give the viewer the feeling that he/she is present in each scene, to bestow authenticity and to deliver a movie with the vibes of a documentary. The art-house aesthetics of the film are also evident by the complete absence of background music.
‘’Going the distance’’ is a film about the hard decision that someone has to take in life regarding choosing between two loved-ones and will touch the hearts of many.