Japon

Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Alejandro Ferretis, Magdalena Flores, Yolanda Villa, Martin Serrano
Director: Carlos Reygadas

Inspired by Andre Bazin’s ‘What is Cinema?’ and the filmmaker Tarkovsky, Mexican lawyer Carlos Reygadas gave up his job at the United Nations and became a film Director. His first feature film JAPĂ“N debuted at Cannes last summer and received special mention in the Camera D’Or. It tells the story of a disillusioned, and nameless man searching for a resting place high up in the Mexican hills where he can spend his last days before he commits suicide. He comes across a suitable house on the edge of a village away from any disturbances, and finds lodging with an elderly widow, the kind and simple Ascen who provides him with food and water.

Little happens in the film, but the sense of loneliness and desolation is captured in the coarse, jagged landscape empty of trees, and the nature of the Tarkovsky-styled panned sequences. The man has found nothing to distract him from his desired course, but as the days pass and he tries to muster up enough enthusiasm to end his life he becomes concerned at the way his hostess is being treated by her greedy family who are determined to claim her small plot of property for themselves. Ascen is named after Ascension – Jesus rising to the angels – and it’s clear her name has significance in this tale of death and retribution. At the end of her natural life she appears not to be afraid of life nor death – while her guest is clearly wrestling with his mortality.

The two characters come together in a strangely touching but rather surprising display of lovemaking – an event which helps to restore some kind of meaning to their lives.

3 out of 6 stars

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