[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
* NISHIMURA Shinjiro
* NISHIGAYA Toshikazu
[ Cast ]
* ASANO Tadanobu KUSARINO Jungo
* NIKAIDO Fumi KUSARINO Hana
* KORA Kengo OZAKI Yoshio
[ Staff ]
* Original Story: SAKURABA Kazuki
* Screenplay: UJITA Takashi
* Cinematography: KONDO Ryuto
* Lighting: FUJII Isamu
* Sound Recording: YOSHIDA Noriyoshi
[ Production Company ]
Happinet, NIKKATSU, McRAY, DWANGO, GYAO!
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Release Date: June, 14th, 2014
Running Time: 129 min
Genre: Drama, Feature
Screening Format: HDCAM
Screening Format with Subtitles
· English (HDCAM)
A Drama That Adapts Author Sakuraba Kazuki’S Naoki Prizewinning Novel With Abundantly Tense Visuals And A Substantial Touch. Won Awards For Best Film And Best Actor At The 2014 Moscow International Film Festival. Its Director Is Kumakiri Kazuyoshi, Known For His Sketches Of Kaitan City.
Hana (Nikaido Fumi) loses her family at the age of ten and is taken in by Jungo (Asano Tadanobu), who claims to be a distant relative. Their desire for one another transcends their blood ties. on an ice floe, and Hana and Jungo flee to protect their secret …
Hana is a ten-year-old girl left orphan after an earthquake (which actually happened in 1993) and the resulting tsunami swept away a small town on an island near Hokkaido, Okushiri. In the refugee camp, she meets a twenty-six-year-old relative with Jungo who decides to adopt her as a daughter.
The girl is now a middle school student, extroverted but with a strange flicker of madness that pours especially against Komachi, the partner of Jungo who works as a contractor in a local bank. The relationship between Jungo and Hana, in fact, has taken an unusual and dangerous turn, much more than a relationship between father and daughter the two begin and touch and often touch themselves with hints of lust. The situation degenerates when Hana becomes a high school student and her body and decide to want more from the “father”, the two become obsessed with each other. After various events and scandals they move to Tokyo but while she seems to grow into an adult woman and with normal aspirations, Jungo’s life degenerates.
The feature film, which is the film adaptation of a novel by Sakuraba Kazuki, is characterised in the first beats in a leaden light, naturally a reflection of the geographical features of the place, the northern areas of Hokkaido, but also an expression of the sense of desperation of the protagonists affected by the tsunami tragedy. The almost total darkness and the glimpses that we glimpse of devastated areas are made in the first few minutes as a sort of expressionistic hell, a touch that although much more contained and less aggressive in the colors reminds certain moments of the cinema Terayama Shūji or Sono Sion with which Kumakiri himself has often collaborated in the past. For the rest of the duration, the film is immersed in an ethereal and milky light, light but almost purgatory. The only moments when the color is revived is when the blood breaks the whitish, bluish and monotonous film patina.
In this sense, above all the scene, one of the most successful films in terms of both expressiveness and meaning in the general context deserves further study. The morning in the kitchen, Hana is about to go to school but the kiss of greeting “father” becomes something more. The girl sucks the finger of the man, an act that returns throughout the film, from the period when Hana is a child until she becomes an adult and thus becomes an element that in its filial / erotic duplicity links but also creates a gap within the story. The two then end up consuming the sexual act when suddenly the drops of blood begin to run on the back of her hand and then a real red rain spills over the two inside the kitchen. A harsh, revolting but also surreal scene that symbolically remains open. The blood of the passion or the sinful act of which the two are protagonists but also “finally” a blood that surrounds them and gives them that inner complicity and closeness that both have lost or never had in their life.
The performance of Nikaido Fumi is extremely impressive: she manages to perfectly interpret the torments of Hana, first of all a junior high school student, to then accompany her character, always in a very ambiguous and never univocal way, to the threshold of adulthood in one of the more intense performance recently seen in Japanese cinema. At the same time the transformation and the fall in the mud of Jungo takes place, even if it is a deterioration that could already be perceived in the first scenes. Asano Tadanobu manages to create a convincing character, thanks to a performance really worthy of note, finally up to the fame of the actor who after the transfer to America and perhaps also because of age, he was no longer able to create or find memorable characters as had happened at the beginning of his artistic journey.
The whole film stands up and is impregnated by the relationship between the two. Kumakiri does not back away from anything, not so much in showing, as in the sex scenes that are there, but rather for his look is lucidly ruthless in revealing with honesty the beauty and even the purity of the relationship between the two indelibly injured souls seeking desperately a communion of some kind. There is love, but it is a love that breaks taboos and that is why it is almost unbearable and sometimes disgusting, but not because there is incest. The two are not father and daughter even a distant relative but rather because they live in their souls the filial feeling and the passionate/loving, carnal one. The love of the father towards the daughter and vice versa and the desire that attracts them is the same love, it is the same drive. This is the scandal against which Kumakiri does not back, a feeling much sharper and sharper than the bond of direct blood. There is no millennial screen of the taboo behind which to hide for the viewer. The disgust for Jungo’s attitude, Hana’s childish passion, sex, smiles, obsession, caresses and the clinging of bodies, goodnight kisses and the most lascivious passion come together and attack us like few works of art have been able to do. For this honest approach, able to go all the way to human feelings, Kumakiri is very close to the poetics of the aforementioned Terayama.
The minimal but dissonant notes created by the former Sonic Youth Jim O’Rourke (his music by United Red Army by Wakamatsu Koji) for My Man blend with the landscape and the touching and disturbing images photographed by Kondō Ryūto and illuminated by Fujii Isamu. The white sea of foam, the slabs of ice as far as the eye of the sea of Okhotsk, the rusty ships waiting in the harbour sunk in the snow, the interior sloppy and not at all welcoming, the sky always dyed with blue death and a blue always a gradation inferior to the serene, the coastal landscape and uniform citizen, anomalous and lulled by the white of snow and ice.
The whole film is also a reflection on the place, on the meaning of Nordic light and on its interpenetration with the character and the events of the people who cross it and live in it. Given the position of Hokkaido in the Japanese archipelago, it becomes an exploration of the margins and also from the cinematographic point of view. Too often it is in Tokyo or the Japanese urban area that dominates the Japanese cinematography and when it comes to the countryside, it is often to understand it in a bucolic sense and then cover it with that meaning of furusato that much importance has feeling in Japanese. The geographical and mental margins plumbed and explored in My Man are instead a story in itself, there is a certain sea but the water element even in its beauty is the bearer of death from the first scene, it is a sublime but angular, uniform nature that it does not reject but neither does it accept. Indifferent.
Another feature that deserves to be mentioned at least is the unpredictable, almost syncopated and jumps that make up the film, as also happens in other works by the original director of Hokkaido, such as the recent Natsu no owari ( The End of Summer, 2013). Scenes and music that seem to be the final ones but that lead instead on the other side, narrative circles that we thought closed but that suddenly re-open, naturalism that suddenly opens up into expressionist holes. In My Man there is everything that characterizes in the good, for the writer, and in bad the modus filmandi of Kumakiri, undoubtedly one of the most original authors who work in contemporary Japan.