Director: 'Norwegian Wood' faithful to original

Tran sought author's input on love triangle story

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BUSAN, South Korea -- The director of the anticipated adaptation of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami's hit novel "Norwegian Wood" said the movie will be loyal to the original story.

Speaking on the sidelines of South Korea's Pusan International Film Festival, Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung said on Saturday that he sought input from Murakami himself.

Set in Japan in the 1960s, "Norwegian Wood" follows the relationship between a Japanese university student and two women -- the girlfriend of his late high school classmate and her roommate at a mental institution. The title comes from The Beatles song, which is the favorite song of one of the book's characters.

"Yes, of course we tried to be as close (to the novel) as possible," Tran said, though he declined to reveal anything from the discussions he had with Murakami.

"I hope it's a good story, but for sure it's a love story," he said.

Tran, who was promoting his thriller "I Come with the Rain" at Pusan, said he is now editing the film and that it is scheduled to be released in Japan in November 2010.

Besides announcing the cast, Japanese production company Asmik Ace Entertainment has been secretive about the film, refusing repeated interview requests. Japanese actor Kenichi Matsuyama will play the university student and Rinko Kikuchi, who was nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role in "Babel," will play his late friend's girlfriend.

Tran's credits include "The Scent of the Green Papaya" and "Cyclo," which won the top Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1995.