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Sea of Trees, The

Director:  Gus Van Sant
Year Released:  2015
Rating:  2.5

A mathematician (Matthew McConaughey), despondent after the passing of his wife Joan (Naomi Watts), takes a one-way trip to Japan with the intention of committing suicide in the infamous Aokigahara ("the sea of trees") by overdosing on pills - before he can say goodbye to life, he encounters an seriously injured man named Takumi (Ken Watanabe) who can't find his way out of the forest. This one got critically blasted (they broke out all the adjectives) and while many of the critics do have a point - it is overly sentimental, the 'twist' is telegraphed in the first act - I found McConaughey completely riveting, and his scenes with Watts hit me on a personal level (once the person you thought you loved cheats on you, I've found the relationship can never fully recover). The film's (very simple) message about carrying on even when you want to give up isn't the worst advice ... but if it strikes you as "sappy," at least there's Kasper Tuxen's lush cinematography to admire.

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