Sea of Trees is a 2015 film starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, and Naomi Watts.
7 out of 10 stars. This is a story of a couple who fell apart and grew back together again only to be ripped apart again by a tragic accident. The forest part is really them reuniting again just long enough to forgive each other.
The story is told out of sequence, but my review will be chronological.
Arthur and Joan Brennan are unhappily married. Through their many fights we learn that Arthur cheated on Joan with a colleague, so she asked him to quit the job and he did. Now he works as a high school physics teacher and makes barely any money. So Joan is forced to support them on her income as a realtor. Over the past three years since the affair they’ve taken pot shots at each other, grown further apart, and Joan has become an alcoholic.
That all changes one night when Joan’s nose begins bleeding and she has difficulty walking. The doctor tells her she has a brain tumor and 50/50 chance of surviving surgery. Then will be radiation and chemo. She survives the surgery and the biopsy comes back normal. The tumor is non-cancerous, cause for celebration. However, while Joan is being transferred from the hospital to long-term care in an ambulance, that ambulance is broadsided by a semi truck. Joan is killed instantly and since Arthur was following in his car talking to her on the phone, he hears and sees her die.
That last conversation that Arthur and Joan had was about how they didn’t know each other’s favorite color, flower, etc. And she begs Arthur to die someplace beautiful, not in a hospital. So Arthur, determined to commit suicide, buys a one way ticket to Tokyo and enters the Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji, a well-known place for people to commit suicide.
Upon entering the forest Arthur immediately meets Takumi, a middle aged Japanese man desperate to escape the forest as he has changed his mind about committing suicide. Arthur tries helping him, but the two of them become hopelessly lost. Arthur falls off a cliff and Takumi has been wandering the forest without food or water for days. They are both in bad shape, stumbling around, so they talk through their pain and help each other. Takumi keeps mentioning his wife and daughter by name and eventually completely collapses.
Arthur is forced to leave Takumi and escape the forest alone, but leaves a trail so they can rescue him. However, when they return, there is no Takumi and no one of that name exists. When he is in the hospital recovering from his injuries the counselor talks to him about his wife and then tells him the two names he’s given her for Takumi’s wife and daughter are Japanese for yellow and winter, Joan’s favorite color and season. Thinking back to his journey through the forest with Takumi, he realizes that Takumi was Joan and she was answering the questions he’d asked her, including that the orchid they encounter in the forest is her favorite flower.
7 out of 10 stars. I am not a Matthew McConaughey fan. Had he not been in this film, I probably would’ve given it 10 stars.