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Colors of the Wind (2017) Tenderly Dabbles With Twin Magic

Image courtesy of Asian Pop-Up Cinema

True to the cinematic definition of melodrama, Jae-young Kwak’s Colors of the Wind expresses tender emotions amid human mistakes and flaws. Its dramatic effect is sparked by more than a dash or two of magic as well. Colors of the Wind lays the melodrama down on nice and thick for an engaging romance between dueling dual identities.  

The melodramatic preposterousness of Asian Cinema selection Colors of the Wind is two-fold. The first layer is good old-fashioned stage magic, everything from card tricks to disappearing acts. The second comes from the notion of doppelgängers. That fanciful notion for doubles, ghostly counterparts, and alter egos that have been a storytelling trope before in film.  

Both elements create spirited and soapy intrigue in the film when combined with the romantic destiny of star-crossed lovers. Colors of the Wind features two saddened individuals who seek to renew the lost true love they remember with people who could pass for their twins. 

A man and a woman dressed in coats walk down a stony beach.
Image courtesy of Asian Pop-Up Cinema

In Tokyo, a young man named Ryo, played by Yuki Furukawa (The Eternal Zero and the Netflix series Erased) is lamenting the apparent suicide of his beautiful girlfriend Yuri (TV actress Takemi Fujii). She left behind a memory box of former possessions including a key, a diary, and a large lollipop, all seemingly having a place in a larger mystery. Those items and an audiotape create a turning point. The familiar recorded voice reveals the existence of a woman who looks exactly like Yuri in another part of the country.

Drawn by a hopeful chance of familiarity and spurred by his magic instructor/bartender (Naoto Takenaka) teaching him about connections between doppelgängers, Ryo follows the clues north to the icy island of Hokkaido. There, he meets that very woman, an equally wayward soul named Aya (Fujii again). She is convinced the man standing before her is Ryu (Furukawa again), her escape artist former lover who went missing after a huge televised stunt went awry. For the moment, Ryo lets her believe that and together the two embark on renewed mutual affection and discovery of past or absent connections.

Stepping out of the romantic drama to a more casual place of criticism and praise, Colors of the Wind supports a long-valued theory: magicians are dreamy.  If you think a keen sense of humor is the only way to woo a potential partner, try dazzling them with playful misdirection of the sleeves and hat variety.   To quote the film “if it can be explained it’s no longer magic.” Game that good might need to hire Billy Dee Williams as its spokesperson next to Colt 45 Malt Liquor, but I digress.

The film requires a simple question for acceptance: Do you believe in doppelgängers?  Somewhere in the world, is there a person that is your physical and spiritual equal?  If you buy that and table the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, welcome to Colors of the Wind.  

In that way, Colors of the Wind asks a great deal of its audience for the allowance of disbelief. The magical chops for the tricks and illusions are an impressive little delight that always scores well.  The challenge is the compounded courtship.

A man leans up to kiss a woman.
Image courtesy of Asian Pop-Up Cinema

Going further with the doppelgänger route, finding someone that looks exactly or closely like a current or former lover would definitely throw anyone for a loop. That begs another question of the viewer.  Can looks alone elicit the same attraction, arousal, or connection? True love is becoming one mind and soul. That bond, one would think, should top the coincidence of looks. Colors of the Wind dares to present finding both matching looks and matching souls. Call that a double whammy of whimsy.

Even with a sumptuous musical score and a soft lens for wide vistas and intimate photography, this film’s odd tone can only be stretched so far. At some points, the enchanted theatrics can no longer soften the ridiculousness. The saving energy comes from the two leads. Furukawa and Fujii are easy on the eyes and very committed to the emotional obstacles. They convey the compelling romance and longing poetry when the tricks no longer fool. 

Written by Don Shanahan

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based Rotten Tomatoes-approved and Banana Meter-approved film critic writing here on 25YL Media and his own website Every Movie Has a Lesson. He also contributes as a Content Supervisor and Assistant Editor in the film department of 25YL. Don is also one of the hosts of the 25YL-backed Cinephile Hissy Fit Podcast on the Ruminations Radio Network. As a school educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Indie Critics and a voting member of the nationally-recognized Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, Online Film Critics Society, Internet Film Critics Society, Independent Film Critics of America, and the Celebrity Movie Awards.

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