Direction, Subject and Screenplay : Ishii Yuya
Cinematography : Hashimoto Kiyoaki
Music: Chiaki Nomura
Editing: Sagara Naoichiro
Production: Shibahara Yuichi , Yasushi Udagawa
Running Time: 110 min.
Release Date: June 18, 2011
Official Site: http://www.bitters.co.jp/azemichi/
Miyata (Mitsuishi Ken) is a fifty year old who lives with his teenage sons Toshiya (Morioka Ry ū ) and Momoko (Jun Yoshinaga) and works for a home delivery company. His wife died of cancer many years before, when the children were small, and all three are living under the sign of this lack. Miyata is so determined to pursue the man “tough” ideal that has promised to be when, thirteen years old, had been bullied by the older schoolmates. His only friend is Sanada (Taguchi Tomorowo), who shared with him the experience of bullying and that it has always followed in life; even now the two meet regularly for drinking and talking. When the children are admitted to the university and must move to Tokyo and simultaneously Miyata believed to be suffering from a cancer, a strong man’s construction appear some cracks that lead to the emergence of feelings and emotions of the event.
Ishii Y ū ya, the child prodigy of Japanese cinema that at age 24 he won the PIA Film Festival in 2007 and soon after realizzatovari film in a few years, all interesting in their bizarre character, had already jumped from the experimental harshness of the beginning in a more structured film and narrative in 2010 with Kawa no soko kara konnichiwa (Sawako Decides). Now takes another step forward with this seemingly conventional film, but in fact the original and brave, which offers us a convincing portrait of a man, a father, Japanese middle-aged. The title could be translated as something like “the cool of the road along the paddy”, ie Miyata himself, and refers to one of the film’s scenes, when Miyata and Sanada, middle school students, run along the narrow road between the fields from home Miyata in school and encourage them to always be real men, that protect the weak, do not show their feelings and never cry. It is no coincidence that the movie opens and sichiuda with a scene that is almost the same, with Miyata fifty always cycling, which makes himself out loud.
The profile that exhibits Miyata, or rather that he had Miyata would own , or at least it was until a few years ago the typical profile Japanese man, that show their feelings, not only in public but also in private, is a sign of weakness or at least embarrassment. This close to the emotions is a constraint even when Miyata, aware of the difficulties of their lives, would like to ask for help but “can not” because the macho code that pursues him from finding the courage to ask for help. Complementary to this feeling there is another typical behavioral aspect of the Japanese and that is not publicly touching (but also in private), even among relatives. All these and other behaviors, expressed and embodied in turn an austere feel, made of positive and negative aspects like all ways of feeling, but it leads to what is widely regarded as a widespread feature among the Japanese, and that is the hy ō genbusoku ( 表現不足) , lack of communication, difficulty in expressing their feelings. Miyata, for example, lives only for their children but does not give it to see either of them; He is concerned about their future and for its authority against them but did not know them, do not know who they are, to know light in their rooms when they are out.
The ideal of man who pursues Miyata, a man who does not shows his emotions, further complicates family relationships, where children already naturally tend not to respect it. And ‘this is another phenomenon of contemporary Japanese society that is not immediately obvious for us: as noted by the director himself in an interview with the Japan Times, “many of today’s Japanese fathers are simply ignored by his wife and children”, unlike that “in the West, where the fathers have a role and a more defined authorities (…)”. The combination of this lack of consideration for his father by the sons and his uncompromising attitude in tribute to his ideal of a strong man, and lead them to being almost in a situation of forced cohabitation between strangers.
With the knowledge of these elements, it includes better the meaning of two scenes that have topical significance: the conversation on the bed of the daughter and the public bathroom with his son. Speaking of dramatic tension, it must be said that unlike other unconventional filmmakers who have ventured in the family drama – just think Chanto tsutaeru (Be Sure to Share, 2009) Sono Sion, in Yomei ikkagetsu no hanayome (April Bride, 2009) Hiroki Ry IU who and, in part, to kōen Tokyo (Tokyo Park, 2011) Aoyama Shinji – Ishii gave up deliberately to melodramatic that gender brings with him almost automatically and chose a cut between the objective and the ironic precisely to distance from his characters, without losing the true emotions. Despite this desire to keep calm tones, those two scenes can not not touch. In the first, Miyata, after a drink with his friend during which he admits that he is not the strong man who has always claimed to be, he goes to talk to his daughter and for the first time opens up to her, showing his weaknesses and his enormous affection for her. In the second scene, when he accompanies his son to Tokyo in the new house, the two go together to the public baths. Between silence and embarrassment, Miyata asks an astonished child if you can wash your back, something they do only the wives and loving parents with small children or adult children with gneitori elderly. In adult life, however, is something very rare and perhaps it is the first time that the two protagonists touch and the moment is moving even to a viewer belongs to a country that makes skinship one of its flags.
In outlining a portrait of Miyata and the stories of the people around him, Ishii introduces here and there fancy touches, such as the beautiful scene from the musical of the beloved song from his dead wife that is progressively sung together by all family members, including the wife herself. In previous Ishii films they were often present great ideas or otherwise bizarre but in this film the authorial touches are made more functional amalgam of history, thereby increasing their effectiveness.
The film also manages and especially the actors, conducted with skill . Mitsuishi Ken is first promoted to prima’attore and returns the courtesy with an extraordinary performance, Taguchi Tomorowo confirms his great qualities of refined actor who knows how to work on the details, Jun Yoshinaga is fascinating in its immature adolescent shyness.
Finally, if we try to lift your head from now even wider scope of Japanese culture, the character of Miyata reminds us of a universal truth: which of us is almost always so busy having to pursue a being who does not let in cloves of sunshine into their lives? With this film, Ishii has been shown to no longer be only a child prodigy but a notable director. We expect from fans, his great work.