Biri Gal is surprisingly good and easy to watch. It’s motivational and inspires us to push ourselves further, to surpass one’s expectation and most importantly, surpass our very own expectations. It’s obviously a suitable movie to watch if you’re a student because it’s focused on passing entrance exams. I enjoyed it mainly because I’m able to relate to the situations and issues raised. Though I’m no longer a high school student, I’m still a post-graduate so technically, a student. As a post-graduate though, I no longer have to go through these kinds of exams, we do research and write thesis. But this movie reminded me of my school life (national exams, oh the nightmare!) so that’s probably why I can relate to the lead character, played by Arimura Kasumi.
Basically, it’s about Sayaka (Arimura Kasumi) whose wish was just to make friends. After becoming a bully victim and going through school transfers she ended in a school where students automatically gets a spot in college so she doesn’t bother to actually study.
Being at the worst class and bottom of the list, she enjoys everyday with her fellow friends at karaoke and clubs without a single worry in life.
One day she was caught for cigarette possession in class and suspended. So during the suspension with nothing to do, her mother suggested cram school for her. So she went and met a very positive cram teacher, Tsubota, played by Ito Atsushi. He’s a complete opposite of Sayaka’s homeroom teacher who simply gives up on his students and calls them ‘scum’ and ‘society garbage’. Now Tsubota-sensei is all smiles and cheerful. He yearns to help each and everyone of his students, while adapting to each of his students’ personalities.
Spoiler ends here, I shall not reveal anything further xD
I liked it and I would recommend giving this movie a go. Plot-wise, it’s nothing new per se, we’ve had so many high school dramas involving students and exams before so this may seem rehashed but it still has its charming moments not to be missed. When I first saw the length of the movie clocking almost 2 hours, I thought it was going to be draggy, just like many other Japanese movies tend to do. Surprisingly, I wasn’t tempted to hit the fast-forward button even once and it just breezed through, making a pleasant watch.
The cast is great. I’ve not watched much of Arimura Kasumi’s stuffs, her most recent work that I saw was WOWOW’s Umi ni Furu which was put on halt at the moment, because it was draggy and the plot wasn’t compelling enough to keep me engrossed. So yes, I haven’t seen anything ‘wow’ from Arimura Kasumi but now if anyone asked me to recommend something of hers, then this has got to be it.
Personally, I think she nailed her character, though not to the point of being very impressive but there are certain moments where she convinced me that she can actually act and made me think ‘she got it in her somewhere’. For example, the crying scene where she was standing outside her mother’s workplace, under the rain, looking torn from all the pressure and realizing that she has probably reached her limit. That was actually good. Another one was the confrontation with her younger brother at the street was short but delivers the intensity required.
That being said, I hope she can deliver in Sakamoto Yuji’s coming Winter drama where she will co-star with Kora Kengo (who I’m confident will deliver as the plot/genre sounds just like a lot of his previous works and up his alley).
Ito Atsushi is not annoying with his chirpy character there. Instead, I half-wished I had such a teacher during my school days. The movie’s message isn’t about passing entrance exams but to find a path for ourselves aka soul-searching and give it all your best once you’ve set a target. Along the way, there will be hurdles and you may feel like giving up, but hanging on and giving it another shot is also an option.
It’s also important to figure out why we are doing our best in something. Is it for our own sake or for the sake of people who have expectations on us? It’s a very cloudy area there to be honest. For example, halfway through the movie, I’m wondering why would Sayaka suddenly put herself in this difficult and tough situation of attending cram school when she doesn’t even bother to study in school all those years?
She later revealed that it was because her mother had paid such a huge sum of money and working so hard to earn the money for her sake, which I felt was touching but also a bit misleading in a way because if you’re not studying for yourself, then the effort will lose its meaning in the future and you’ll start wondering, what did I study so hard for? (Hm…food for thought)
So it’s good that she finally made her resolve and found a new determination to enter Keio University on her own will. *Find out on your own whether she passes or not* Of course, it goes without saying that one should be grateful if the family is pouring so much money and effort in hopes their children will have a better life. But I think you also need to actually enjoy what you’re doing too in one way or another.
Anyways, I also like Yoshida Yo who is just wonderful as her mother. She relentlessly believes in her daughter and never even once, given up on her. I like how she never forces anything on Sayaka but presents the opportunity to her and lets her decide.
Nomura Shuhei didn’t appear as much, but delightful to see. There’s no romance at all in this movie (so shippers might be let down lol) but I like his interactions with Arimura and cheering for each other to exact revenge on people who don’t believe in them (more so in Nomura’s case).
Well, give this a try.