Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Miho Kanno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tatsuya Mihashi, Kyoko Fukada, Chieko Matsubara
Director: Takeshi Kitano

Set against a beautiful display of Japan’s finest areas of natural beauty all the way through the seasons, Takeshi Kitano’s latest film tells the story of a miserable pair of young lovers. The beautiful heroine is Sawako (Miho Kanno) who was abandoned by her lover Matsumoto (Hidetoshi Nishijima) in favour of his boss’s daughter and has subsequently lost her voice and attempted suicide. Wracked by guilt her young lover returns and the pair are tied together – not just literally – but by a loose rope so that they can wander around the country hoping that something might wake Sawako from her silent hell.

Two parallel plots deal with equally tragic love affairs. An aged yakuza boss decides to find out what happened to the love of his life, a simple loving woman who has been waiting for him every week on a park bench with a ready made bento (packed lunch) in case he returns. Touching – yes. But when he eventually returns to her she has also lost her mind and can no longer recognise him as the man he once was.

The final tragic love affair is between a traffic cop and his pop-idol hero, a squeaky clean young woman who is injured in an accident and has to have her eyes removed. In an attempt to get closer to her, as well as an empathetic gesture to help feel her pain, he takes his own eyes out.

It’s all miserable stuff – and certainly not one of Takeshi Kitano’s finest works – but the visual displays are stunning and the film does not disappoint aesthetically. The whole film is framed by beautifully filmed sequences of porcelain bunraku dolls, their inanimate faces sometimes giving away more than any of the characters in the film sequence itself.

3 out of 6 stars