To get the positive in first, this is a very pretty film with some very cool clothes and some nice moments of intimacy.
However, like many a film adapted from a book, it suffers from trying to pack too large and complex a plot into too little time (not that it’s a particularly short film at 134 minutes long) and ends up feeling like there’s not enough engagement with the characters and their inter-relationships to really explain what goes on between them. In the case of Norwegian Wood it ends up feeling like a number of ill-advised sexual pairings (one of which at the end comes completely out of nowhere) tied together by unconnected conversations interspersed with the occasional pretty landscape. As ever, this approach is fine for people who’ve read the book but feels very disjointed if you haven’t.
My other big complaint with the film is the music. It’s by Jonny Greenwood, most famously of Radiohead but also BAFTA nominated for his music for There Will Be Blood. I don’t really get what he was trying to do here though. The music was largely distracting and obtrusive during most of the film until in one of the final climactic scenes it goes into full-blown cheesiness as the main character retreats into his grief (along with some rather over the top visuals too) becoming the kind of soundtrack you might expect to hear on a silent movie to make sure everyone fully understands that this is a sad moment in the film! A bit more subtlety would have been good (actually I think silence would have been the best option for that particular scene).