Asa’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Being able to talk freely is the lifeblood of love."
This is what Hana says sort of as an excuse after insulting Gin. I like to see this remark as an emotional and psychological truth we enact, rather than a life lesson we follow. It's not always the right guide, but it's relevant and relatable. It's brilliant how tragicomic moments like these never appear planted by the writer to fit the genre, but are candidly born out of the characters being the way they are under circumstances shifting beyond their predictions.
Another philosophically endearing thing about this film is that what the characters tell and their realities turn out to share an intricate bond as they move in and out of their relations to one another, scene by scene. The bond is heartful and magical, Christmas style, even when these people are barely clichéd. They contain enough darkness in them to resist becoming the writer's mere sentimental outlet, his presentation of nothingness in the face of the most painfully realist themes ever. Which he chose.
Recurring figurative details, as reflected through the hostess stumbling across Gin below Mother's bar or the billboard from where Miyuki spits at someone on the street, are the highlights of my day. I insanely love it when this concept of intertextuality moves away from its rather treacherous commercialized role in our world into the cinematic world as a very conscious decision of the writer to enhance his narrative in beautiful little ways. The doctor's metal-clanking leg following his lecture about how best to live, Hana's bittersweet haikus, and so many more. A winner of a Christmas movie.
"On the year's last day
when all of a life's accounts
have been settled up."