The Last Samurai

Despite its many flaws, this movie inexplicably kept a lump in my throat for a surprising amount of time. Tom Cruise gives a typically self-indulgent performance, and the film has little in the way of historical accuracy. But there's something about the tranquility of the Japanese landscape and culture combined with the inexorable approach of the future that really resonates with me. The critics have all been raving about Ken Watanabe, who played the role of Katsumoto, and he was good, but many of the other Japanese actors also really impressed me. Masato Harada played Katsumoto's nemesis, Omura, extremely well, and Shin Koyamada's portrayal of Katsumoto's samurai son was amazing. But the performance that really left me breathless was Koyuki, as Katsumoto's widowed sister-in-law, Taka. She pulled off an amazingly subtle and rich performance as a young mother as well as the love interest, and, surprisingly, the script never cheapens her relationship with Cruise's Algren.

Viewed: 1/10/2004 | Released: 11/30/2003 | Score: B

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