Director and screenplay: Yamada Yōji
Photography: Chakamori Masashi
· Fukuhara Nobuko (Yoshinaga Sayuri)
· Fukuhara Kōji (Ninomiya Kazunari)
· Sata Machiko (Kuroki Haru)
Running Time: 130 minutes
Release Date: December 12, 2015
Nagasaki August 9, 1945, the atomic bomb released by American aviation only three days after that in Hiroshima annuls and takes away hundreds of thousands of lives, including that of young Kōji student. Three years and suddenly the boy appears to his mother Nobuko, widow. The appearance is visible only to the woman. There is also the young Machiko, ex-girlfriend of the boy who feels he has to continue to care for Nobuko. Her son’s visits are becoming more and more frequent and the two discuss their past, but also about the future that the woman, according to the boy, should build up trying to forget the tragedies of the war.
Yamada in the last few years seems to have decided to turn his attention towards the first part of the last century, a period that seems far to continue to have its influence on Japanese contemporary and more generally Asian. In 2008, with our excellent mother investigating the upheaval brought to a Japanese family by government militarism and then by the tragedy of the Second World War. While five years later with The Little House, the director created a breakdown of the situation in a middle-class family during and after Japan’s military expansion in nearby Asia. In the first film, the protagonist was played by Yoshinaga Sayuri and one of the minor characters was played by Asano Tadanobu, while in The Little House as the home helper Kuroki Haru was awarded in Berlin for his performance.
These three actors all came back to Nagasaki: Memories of my Son, which somehow continues to lighten the effects that militarism, expansionism and the violence of war lead to a family nucleus. It should be said that the last of these three works is definitely the weaker, Yoshinaga’s interpretation is always perfect for the expressiveness and subtlety of the emotions shown, as once again Kuroki Haru is in a non-protagonist. Continuing with the merits of the film, it should be said that the work done with lights and art design – most of the scenes take place inside the old woman’s house – is amazing and makes theatricality and taste perfectly perfection Fantastic of conversations between Nobuko and his son. Even the music made by Sakamoto Ryuichi marries perfection for the kind of film and narrative that takes place before our eyes.
What hampers and ends up affecting the quality of the film is, on the one hand, the presence of Ninomiya Kazunari on the part of her son, and on the other, the very end of the film. Ninomiya is one of the most popular television faces in Japan, one of the members of the Arashi boy band, no doubt the group that dominates television presidential charts in the archipelago. Now, Ninomiya is not a bad actor in the party, no one is leaving, very often depends on the type of work and the director with whom to measure, we have already seen, for example, in a good interpretation in Clint Iwo Jima Letters fron Eastwood. In Nagasaki: Memories of my Son has disappointed me, but my judgment is too heavily influenced by the context in which the “actor” operates, the world of talent agencies that impose their “actor” on productions, we have already talked about it Too many times, better to finish here.
Seeing the film with a more detached and pure eye may possibly overturn the judgment about Ninomiya, but the main problem of the film is not that. If the film was over 10 or 15 minutes before, it would be a work of utmost respect and perhaps remembered with the other two Yamada films mentioned above. Without revealing too much about the plot, it is enough to mention that the last part of the film is a concentration of molasses and banal joker that comes out of ridicule, not so narratively speaking, after all we are talking about a movie by Shōchiku and Yamada, not a ” Revolutionary “at Ōshima or Yoshida, but in the way that everything is realized, sin, really missed a chance.