Dearest Sister (ນ້ອງຮັກ)

Bitter Honey (Mitsu no aware,蜜のあわれ)

Bitter Honey (Mitsu no aware,蜜のあわれ)

[ Directed by ]
ISHII Gakuryu
[ Produced by ]
[ Cast ]
• NIKAIDO Fumi Akako
• OHSUGI Ren Old writer
• MAKI Yoko Yuriko
[ Staff ]
• Original Story: MURO Saisei
• Screenplay: MINATO Takehiko
• Cinematography: KASAMATSU Norimichi
• Editor: TAKEDA Takahiko
• Editor: ISHII Gakuryu
[ Production Company ]
“Bitter Honey” Production Committee
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
[ Production Studio ]

Release Date: April 1, 2016
Running Time: 105 min
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction/Fantasy , Romance , Feature
Color: Color
Screening Format: Blu-ray,HDCAM-SR, DVD
Screening Format with Subtitles
・English (HDCAM-SR, Blu-ray, DVD)

[ Story ]
Film adaptation of a fantasy novel composed exclusively of dialogue by Taisho and Showa era author Muro Saisei and published in his final years in 1959. Directed by Ishii Gakuryu of That’s It.
An adorable girl named Akako (Nikaido Fumi) lives with an elderly writer (Ohsugi Ren) and engages in erotic and edgy conversations and cuddles up with him at night. There is something odd about Akako, and in fact she is a bright red goldfish transformed into human form.
[ Official Site ]
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
• 2016 Japan Cuts
• 2016 Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, World Fantastic Blue
• 2016 Shanghai International Film Festival, Panorama

A famous Japanese writer in post-war Japan sees his fantasies come true when a goldfish turns into a young girl who will become her lover. This, however, will discover that she is not alone when she meets the ghost of another girl loved by the aged poet.
Ishii Gakuryū who as many know, Ishii Sōgo who changed his name signs a very different work from his hyperkinetic and in some ways successful That’s It, returns in some ways to the fantastic and almost dreamlike genre that he had already touched with some work between this and the last century, but it is a literary and vintage fantasy, both in style and in content. Here, in fact, the Japanese director starts from an autobiographical 1959 novel by Murō Saisei set in the fifties. The protagonist is an elderly writer obsessed with his inspiring muse, a little goldfish transformed into a girl, interpreted with playfulness, lightness and comic purity by Nikaidō Fumi, a face that is increasingly becoming a feminine synonym of contemporary Japanese cinema.
The film is divided and structured into four chapters, with the atmospheres moving between the surreal and the literary. Because of its peculiar tone of playfulness and lightness but with erotic traits of background, the film can remember some works of the last part of Jissōji Akio’s career, author known in the West for his work with the ATG between the sixties and seventies.
Good is the staging and the realization of the costumes by Sawataishi Kazuirō, with an obvious and natural inclination towards the red, another successful element is then the sound with the continuous noise of the flow of water to accompany the movements of the young fish.
Nikaidō’s acting is very theatrical, in the sense that often suggests the movements and the intonation that could have on the stage of a theater. Always poised between the comic and the childish, but manages not to get to excess on one side or on the other. The performances of the other actors are also good, including the co-star played by Ōsugi Ren. A special note goes to Kōra Kengo who in the few minutes in which he is on the screen in the role of the famous writer and Nobel laureate Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, really succeeds, practically without uttering a word, to create a magnetic character full of depth.
Ishii manages to recreate the literary atmospheres of the time, the external ones but also the internal ones of the protagonists. Unfortunately, the narration and development of the true story are less successful. The moments of tension or those tragic in which it seems that something changes and brings the events somewhere, there are, but they can not create a basic uniformity, or rather a fabric on which the film with its characters, we can unraveling convincingly. Not so much for directorial inadequacy or perhaps not only, but because this heterogeneity and lack of balance seem to be the purpose of the work. The jump between stylistic registers, from almost tragic moments to comic or light scenes, make the various parts even in their completeness weigh down and break the narrative rhythm. The result is a sort of continuous indecision that makes the film almost a sum of attempts rather than a completed work with the consequence of leaving the viewer rather detached and indifferent.
Unfortunately we must reiterate what was said for other works of Ishii and that the starting ideas would also be good, as well as occasionally find interesting ideas, both visually and from the point of view of the content but all this is not always kept together and developed in something capable of transcending the quality of individual moments. Too bad because here and there are flashes of excellent cinema.
[Katsuyuki Nakanishi]

Katsuyuki Nakanishi
Born on 1984 in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Graduated in Vantan Film and Movie Institute major in film director. The fourth graduate of JSC Cinematographers assistant upbringing cramming school. While he was studying in Tokyo, he was also working with Director Shinya Tsukamoto's movie at the same time. After that, he became part of the lighting department of Toei Studios Kyoto, studied under Kiyoto Ando and Takashi Sugimoto. In these movies, he worked as an assistant lighting director with Takashi Sugimoto in "Chacha - Tengai no Onna"(2007) and Kiyoto Ando in "The Fallen Angel"(2010). He work as a freelancer since 2011 and became part of these latest movies as a lighting director of Director Yang Ik-June's ”Shibata and Nagao"(2012), Director Keisuke Yoshida’s ”Himeanile”(2016), Director Kohki Yoshida’s ”ThreeLights"(2017), Director Hiroshi Ando’s ”Moon and Thunder" (2017) and Director Shinya Tsukamoto’s ”Killing” (2018).

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