Director: Koji Yakusho
Screenplay: Urara (From An Original Subject Of Yakusho Koji Nakata Hideo E) Cinematography: Kurita Toyomichi
Editing: Soichi Ueno
Running Time: 131 min
Release Date: June 6, 2009
Score ★★☆☆☆ 2/5
PIA : Comments : At the exit of 3/5 rooms : 63/100
Like any self-respecting film, even as Japan has a rich tradition of film divas past, occasionally or permanently, behind the camera. Without disturbing the event of Takeshi Kitano, TV star and versatile artist he became one of the most famous contemporary Japanese filmmakers in the world, come to mind (I quote off the cuff, so I might as well forget profile cases) actors of the past as Hiroshi Inagaki, Kinuyo Tanaka, Toshiro Mifune, Akira Kobayashi, or more recent ones like Takenaka Naoto and Tadanobu Asano. Could exempt themselves from groped the company Yakusho Kōji, one of the most successful actors of his generation ( Tanpopo, Eel, Shall We Dance ?, Cure, Babel , to name just the most famous titles interpreted by him)?
On his debut director, Yakusho packs a bizarre bitter comedy that has as its theme the confrontation with death. The themes are universal and stranoti to movie screens: the work of mourning, the relationship with the afterlife and, above all, the recovery of a generation gap and the path of redemption and discovery of self that they take as a basis a traumatic event , recounted (at least in part) according to the road movie schemes. On paper, the story of a grumpy man and child who, after a lifetime of fun and money, finds himself in the woods of Japan while looking for a place to scatter the ashes of the deceased son, tightening in the meantime a bond respectively with the girl he was in love with these (who does not know of his death) and his best friend just out of reform, might suggest a trite and silly film topped the new-age rhetoric, but the actor -regista can deny almost entirely prejudices giving a good account of intelligence behind the camera.
Keeping a point of view of purely Japanese mold death (object-symbol of the film is the butsudan , the household Buddhist altar that embodies the cult of the dead loved ones and dialogue with them), in fact, Yakusho directs with grace and lightness of a surreal humor comedy, although there are moments of great intensity and modesty in which is palpably felt the pain that follows a death. The style, which relies heavily on long shots, almost contemplative, while the narrative flows freely (perhaps with some digression too) guided by the various characters. Accentuating the sense of amused distance than a subject in itself tragic, spoken commentary that recalls – with a contrapuntal effect worthy of the best Kiyoshi Kurosawa – echoes of medieval music by contrasting European matrix with a markedly Japanese visual imagery (over domestic altar, Buddhist funeral rituals, dressed in the traditional clothes barker, the yokai of the fake haunted house, Mount Fuji). Only some trimming in the script and some stylistic choices a little ‘outdated, among all insisted the use of the split-screen in the representation of the phone calls, leave some doubt on the actual Yakusho director of maturity and that such an undertaking, however, flavor purely personal (the subject is by the same actor and director Hideo Nakata), can have an effective action.
Under his direction, the extraordinary Yakusho actor always adopts a grand style and over the top, giving himself more often in some of gigioneggiamento too much. On the other hand, gathers around him a good team of players from different generations (synthesized by the combination of the very young Nikaido Fumi and the now elderly film star Yachigusa Kaoru).