Iwai found the right balance between Japanese live action drama and the magic of animation. The film looks great, the story is moving, the characters quirky but lovable.
It's a very sweet, very natural and naive little film that has charm aplenty and feels particularly short for a film that runs well past the 120-minute barrier.
The good stuff
With this film he returns to his core style, picking things up right where he left off back in 2004. Strong acting, an intriguing plot and a warm, dreamy atmosphere make this an easy recommend.
A vibrant and wild trip through an alternative world. One where the yen became the dominant currency and foreigners flocked to Japan to earn a quick buck. It's one of the least typical films in Iwai's oeuvre, but also one of the most interesting. While a little uneven in places, there is so much raw energy here that I had no trouble convincing me of its strengths a second time around.
Shunji Iwai in China. Last Letter is certainly better than his American adventure, but it doesn't quite match his prime Japanese work. The drama is fine, but there's a little too much intrigue and not enough time to delve into the core drama. The acting is great though and there are some pretty shots scattered throughout the film. A solid entry in Iwai's oeuvre, but he's made better films.