Three Stories of Love is a quiet drama that follows the lives of 3 people as they deal with love and loss. Atsushi’s wife was killed in a random attack and he is now grappling with depression; Toko is seemingly trapped in a loveless marriage with an emotionally unavailable husband and a mother-in-law who is rude to her; and Shinomiya is a gay lawyer who is dealing with a case of unrequited love. The film, directed by Ryosuke Hashiguchi, brings together these three stories of love, but they are not happy stories – they all deal with varied degrees of rejection and abandonment.
What’s most striking about Hashiguchi’s film is how true-to-life it is. The scenes unfold slowly, and sometimes characters don’t know what to say to each other. The right words are not always available in real life, and the characters here definitely don’t always have the right words for every moment. The film doesn’t feel overly scripted; instead, when we’re watching the film there’s a sense that this is real life. With its running time of almost 2 and a half hours, the film gives itself the time to slowly unfold and be very detailed while capturing the boring, everyday moments that make up a marriage or a relationship.
This is a very sensitive film filled with quiet sadness and desperation. The actors do a great job at reacting to the varying degrees of love — absent-minded love, unrequited love, and love that’s torn away too soon — and this adds to the realness of the film. Its slow pace may seem somewhat boring at times, but if an accurate depiction of life and love is what Hashiguchi was after, then that could explain it. By the end of the film, not much has changed for the characters. All of them end up more or less where they started — again, which is pretty much true-to-life.