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Tonight, at the Movies (2018)

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今夜、ロマンス劇場で or Tonight, at the Movies (a.k.a Color Me True, which I find to be a strange alternate title) by Takeuchi Hideki is the story of Kenji, an aspiring assistant director, who is thrilled and flustered by the entrance of his favourite movie character, Princess Miyuki, into the real world.

Tonight is clearly inspired by Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo. But the story flows quite differently. Both films are billed as romantic fantasies but where Rose is heavy on the aspect of fantasy (versus reality), Tonight is more focused on the romance and is thus more lighthearted in comparison.

Overall rating: ★★★½ (out of five)

What I Liked

  • The costumes! The production design! Delightful colours, and Miyuki gets some absolutely lovely 1950s/60s-styled clothes. I would happily wear most of her clothes (if I could fit into them).
    It’s the complete opposite visual style of The Purple Rose of Cairo. Rose was set in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, and the colours and visuals were appropriately much more earth-toned and solemn. It is also ultimately a more sombre story despite the lightheartedness in the middle.
    Tonight is set somewhere around the 1950s and 1960s, a rather more positive time in history compared to the Great Depression, and the story itself is far happier than Rose‘s story is. So the brighter visual look works well for it.
  • Kitamura Kazuki’s character, Shundo Ryunosuke. He was hilariously self-absorbed. Kitamura is so good at playing that sort of smarmy, arrogant character.
  • Naruse Toko (Honda Tsubasa), Kenji’s other potential love interest. I liked that she was genuinely nice and sweet instead of being some mean girl.
  • I appreciated that Tonight chose a different approach to the same basic premise compared to Rose. It’s interesting to see the two takes on it – like how we have so many versions of Cinderella now.
  • I admire the dedication of the VFX artists to masking out Miyuki’s silhouette in all the frames when she first appears in the real, colourful world. It’s very well done. There were only a couple of moments in close-up where the masking didn’t seem quite as perfect.
  • The montage showing Kenji’s and Miyuki’s life together was very sweet albeit lightly tinged with sadness.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The middle part did drag a bit.
  • I thought the relationship between Kenji and Miyuki was a little underdeveloped. As it was, I could see why Kenji would have been so smitten by Miyuki but it was less clear why Miyuki would have been so struck by Kenji. It wasn’t totally unbelievable, but I would have liked to see that expanded on a little more.
  • There were a few logic loopholes. The most perplexing one to me was how or why Miyuki knew how to “colour” herself correctly with makeup that Kenji pushed at her in the studio dressing room. She didn’t even know what red or blue looked like, having come out of a black-and-white world. And it’s a miracle that none of the cream or powder came off even in the rain. What sort of magical studio makeup was that?? Did she have to keep stocks of that makeup all her life then?

Other Stuff

  • There were a good many foreshadowing clues in the movie – from the nurse’s passing comments about the old man’s granddaughter to the theatre owner’s photograph with his wife. Some were well-hidden, like the photograph which hinted at the theatre owner’s having a similar experience. Others were just blatant – it very quickly became obvious that the “granddaughter” they talked about wasn’t really the granddaughter.
    The subtle clues were good, the blatant ones were a bit too blatant.
  • One major difference between Rose and Tonight is that with the former, the real world and the fictional world are much more intertwined: Tom Baxter’s leaving the screen results in the entire movie being held up. The other characters display sentience and self-awareness, and are clearly annoyed by Tom’s desertion because that leaves everyone hanging. Realistic reactions and ramifications for fictional characters.
    In Tonight, we never hear from or see the other characters from Miyuki’s movie life once she lands in reality. She is the lone representative of the imaginary world, and she is absorbed quite wholly into the real world. We never see or feel any real complications of her doing so until she tells Kenji that she risks disappearing completely if she touches a person.
    I think Rose got a lot of its humour from Tom Baxter’s frustrated fellow characters, and that lent the story more whimsy. With Tonight, the story is more tightly wound around Kenji and Miyuki. But Tonight doesn’t lack it humour – it’s merely different. Rose is more witty whereas Tonight is more sentimental.

In general, this was a fun movie! Easy to watch and enjoy (if you don’t think too hard about those logical problems).

Got anything to add or say? :D