Director and screenplay: Watanabe Hirobumi
Photography: Woo-hyun Bang
Music: Watanabe Yuji
· Watanabe Hirobumi (man)
· Hitayama Misao (elder)
Production: Foolish Piggies Films
Running Time: 110 minutes
Release Date: October 25, 2015.
A man lives in a small village out of Tokyo along with his old grandmother, his days are covered by a monotonous daily life, breakfast, work in the stable, and long walks.
After the happy debut of 2013 with The Mud Ship Sails Away, Watanabe brothers return with another job that is more extreme than the former on the formal plane. 7 Days is a talk-free, black and white movie, and essentially devoid of a real story, a movie that at its premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival ended up dividing a lot, scared by so many and appreciated by very few.
We practically follow seven days in the life of man and grandmother, each of whom is scanned by the same scenes that repeat, in the morning the sink, breakfast, walk to take out the trash, long walks in the fields to go to the stable – perhaps the best scenes of work especially thanks to music – cows, homecoming and then dinner. The viewer’s attention focuses inevitably on the image of the frame and everything that it contains: the fields, the windy trees, the interior of the house, the cows, the trellis that stand in the plain, are all elements ” Landscaping “that are also highlighted by the use of digital black and white. Music also plays a fundamental role, both instrumental and singing as a lament, a circular element that accompanies the long strokes of the protagonist along the fields, a music whose almost hypnotic cadence resonates with monotony and Tedious of the everyday life of man and the surrounding landscape. An important part of the work is also sound design, the wind above all, but also the murmuring of television and machinery used in the stable, buzzing flies, and generally everything that is relegated to the background, from the point of view Sound, just because of the lack of words, is here transposed and projected in the foreground, in evidence.
There are some moments of waste in the movie, comic moments, in truth, only one when the old grandmother hits the belly of her sleeping grandson, and in the scenery in the last two days, Saturday and Sunday. In fact, on Saturday after playing with a baseball alone, the man goes to the cemetery, as is often the case in Japan on a hill, and from here we see a small town behind him. A peculiar detail, but in a film where everything is almost the same, is a visual gap that works like a small revelation, namely, the geography of the area and how the house of the boy and grandmother relate to the Inhabited center and with the expanse of fields around it.
In addition to being an exploration of the Japanese non-urban landscape – fields, distant mountains, bushes, trees, rigangoli – there is a filigree, from the choice of location, to the theme of the peripherality of Japanese campuses compared to metropolises. Media story, it seems that everything has to happen. A related concept is that of the depopulation of small countries and how this affects agriculture and consequently the daily lives of the (few) inhabitants left. Inhabitants who are mostly elderly: here is the relationship between the son and the old grandmother.
The 7-day vision is not easy, it’s a movie where there is no entertainment, in some ways it is difficult to support for monotony, but at the same time it is a circular monotony that has the strength to envy and Capture with its rhythm, music and various shades of black and white. A work that exalts the contemplative power of the image itself and which has the value for those who appreciate this kind of work to create an open space between the work and the one who sees it.
On the stylistic scale some scenes in particular are well-studied and built with wisdom, they have the strength to stay alone for long periods of time even if nothing happens practically – the morning at the sink or some outside in the fields, for example, Are built very well and make use of natural light really optimally.
7 Days is a work that definitely deserves to dare to dare, while avoiding the trap of wanting to be too art-house cinema and lyric, an experimental film but not being sold as such. Even here, as in many contemporary Japanese productions, the feature film could have been about thirty minutes, though the monotony, tedio, circularity, and duration of the film contribute to creating a sort of dilated time functional to the style and success of the Movie itself.
Now the hope is that Watanabe brothers do not believe Lav Diaz or Bela Tarr but continue in their original cinema route.