"Lost in the Wilderness" (at the Kokusai) celebrates two cherished Japanese themes: the triumph of sheer determination and the nobility of selfless love. The film's real-life hero, the late, dauntless mountain climber and wilderness adventurer, Naomi Uemura, supplies the first; his wife, Kimiko, whose husband was absent for months at a stretch, represents the second.
Clearly, there's an unusual love story here. The man conquered the highest peaks on five continents and then turned Arctic and Antarctic explorer--and once thoughtlessly told a reporter that his sled dogs were more important to him than his wife. The woman admits that no other man ever proposed to her, yet knows in her heart that she is genuinely loved.
Unfortunately, director Junya Sato and his co-writer Yoshiki Iwama, working from Uemura's memoirs, have chosen a strictly conventional approach to both their hero's exploits and his romance. "Lost in the Wilderness" becomes tedious long before its grueling 140 minutes are over.
The couple, at least, are three-dimensional. Toshiyuki Nishida's Uemura is a stocky, shy, clumsy yet deeply emotional fellow who says there's "no room" for him in Japan and that he must embrace the wilderness to feel truly alive.