Drawing Closer: Is the Netflix Movie Based on a Book?

Delving into an emotional tale about love on borrowed time, Netflix’s ‘Drawing Closer’ is a Japanese drama movie that follows Akito Hayasaka, a teenage artist with a heart condition, and his encounter with Haruna Sakurai, a girl on the hospital’s rooftop. Both have a finite amount of time due to health issues but have a common point of interest through their passion for art. Akito witnesses Haruna’s painting in the hospital and becomes increasingly fascinated with her outlook and personality. The reserved protagonist has to reconcile his feelings of mortality while learning to grow alongside Haruna’s presence.

Directed by Takahiro Miki, ‘Drawing Closer’ explores the importance of living in the present through its two adolescent characters who have been given an expiry date on their lease of life. As they grow close to one another, Akito learns the value of resilience from Haruna, who has half a year to live. He remains mute about his condition, deciding to help Haruna as much as he can by giving her a wonderful time. Unbeknownst to him, the more he learns about her, the more attached he grows to her. The romantic drama features a compelling and uplifting narrative about the time we spend with our loved ones, inciting questions about the film’s roots and whether or not it has any basis in true events.

Drawing Closer is a Fictional Story Adapted From a Bestselling Novel

‘Drawing Closer’ is an adaptation of Aoi Morita’s fictional novel titled ‘Yomei Ichinen to Senkoku Sareta Boku ga, Yomei Hantoshi no Kimi to Deatta Hanashi,’ which is also the film’s original title. Using the bestselling novel about fragile love operating on a time limit as source material, Tomoko Yoshida developed the script for the screen. The story centers upon Akito, whose taciturn nature has kept his heart tumor diagnosis a secret from anyone but himself. With only a year to live, the 17-year-old protagonist has all but given up on his life. As such, the narrative focuses on the value of persistence and the fragility of life. It decodes how the present can be defined by the mindset carried by an individual, even under harrowing circumstances.

Ren Nagase, who plays Akito, talked about his impressions of the heart-rending story in the Japanese drama. “From the moment I first read the script, I was totally drawn to the sense of tenderness and fragility,” he said. “The literal ticking clocks of the characters’ respective illnesses make their nascent feelings for each other all the more precious, and I tried to focus hard on capturing the single-minded devotion Akito has for Haruna.” He further added his reasons for picking the part of the protagonist, “I took on this role because I had never been in a classic love story like this. Looking back, I believe the film is filled with kindness.”

The narrative of ‘Drawing Closer’ harkens back to another Japanese film of its kind with similar themes of adolescence and mortality – ‘Let Me Eat Your Pancreas.’ In the 2017 romantic drama, an introvert, Haruki Shiga, learns about his popular classmate, Yamauchi Sakura’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer during one of his visits to the hospital. The two establish a relationship unexpectedly as Sakura forces him to be her friend. Over the course of the narrative, they grow closer to each other and learn the issues plaguing them in their personal and private lives away from the eyes of their other friends. Incidentally, the script for the film was written by Tomoko Yoshida, who also wrote the Takahiro Miki directorial.

‘Drawing Closer’ is a romance story involving two characters whose lives are of a fleeting nature, a premise that sets up exploration opportunities for its young teenage protagonists who are dealing with existential conflicts. As they face their fears and unfulfilled expectations, they learn the value of enjoying the present without worrying much about the future. While fictional in its genesis, the coming-of-age narrative delves into some of the most prescient fears of mortality hounding every person in the world. It channels those themes through the lens of its two protagonists, adding a layer of deep sensitivity and tenderness to its central relationship and forcing a closer examination of interpersonal bonds, support, and the resilience of the human spirit.

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