Deep and abiding is far from an adequate way to describe my devotion to the works of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. He effortlessly makes the mundane unearthly.
But like many a Murakami fan, my breathless endorsement reaches a hiccup on the subject of “Norwegian Wood.” While it was his breakthrough hit in Japan, it’s a sharp departure from the mystical alleyways of Tokyo that he usually frequents. A narrowly focused love story, it’s as short and tangled with sexual resentment as the Beatles tune Murakami derived its title from.
French-Vietnamese director Anh Hung Tran has taken on the task of adapting the novel to film. A promising venture since the last Murakami work brought to the screen – Jun Ichikawa’s beautifully spare and relentlessly depressing “Tony Takitani” – was widely praised. Tran’s film looks to be on the same path. Though it’s set to open in Japan in December, it will premiere in September at the Venice Film Festival, where it’s already up for the Golden Lion Award.
A “Norwegian Wood” teaser trailer was released a few days ago. Only 30 seconds long, it makes excellent use of the plinky, plaintive tone (maybe the most stripped-down sitar sound commited to tape) of the Beatles song. If the trailer is any indication, this bird will fly, too.