[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
[ Cast ]
• TSUMABUKI Satoshi WAKANA Kosuke
• HARADA Mieko WAKANA Reiko
• IKEMATSU Sosuke WAKANA Shunpei
• NAGATSUKA Kyozo WAKANA Katsuaki
[ Staff ]
• Original Story: HAYAMI Kazumasa
• Screenplay: ISHII Yuya
• Cinematography: FUJISAWA Junichi
• Lighting: KANAZAWA Masao
• Sound Recording: KOMATSU Masato
• Editor: FUSHIMA Shinichi
[ Production Company ]
RIKI PROJECT, PHANTOM FILM, Breth, HORIPRO, MAGNETIZE, MODE FILMS
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Release Date: May 24, 2014
Running Time: 117 min
Genre: Drama, Feature
Screening Format: DCP
Screening Format with Subtitles
[ Story ]
Ishii Yuya, whose The Great Passage was selected as Japan’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, directs this film adaptation of Hayami Kazumasa’s same-named novel. Depicts a struggling family who believe in miracles as the mother’s impending death propels them toward dissolution.
The Wakana family’s mother, Reiko (Harada Mieko), has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sons Kosuke (Tsumabuki Satoshi) and Shunpei (Ikematsu Sosuke) are bewildered when her high-interest debt and father Katsuaki (Nagatsuka Kyozo)’s hefty loans come to light. What is the unexpected miracle performed by this hopelessly struggling family…?
[ Official Site ]
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
2014 Montreal World Film Festival, World Greats
2014 Busan International Film Festival, A Window on Asian Cinema
2014 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, Asian Window
Ishii Yūya’s ability to change the register and be able to keep touching us is extraordinary. After the remarkable choral story of Fune wo amu (The Great Passage, 2013), which in almost epic tones described the working and existential enterprise of the editorial staff of a dictionary, here is now, even in the same year, this intimate story of a family touched by the mother’s deadly disease.
A quiet and tidy provincial town, as shown by one of the beautiful initial shots above the roofs of the houses. A family apparently equally calm and normal: father, mother, a son married with a baby on the way, another at the university. Reiko, the mother, is a spontaneous and sunny woman, goes out with her friends, meets her children, spoiling them a bit, taking care of the house plants. But, as shown by the extraordinary sequence in the tea room that opens the film suddenly almost as if it were the continuation of a discourse already started elsewhere, every now and then, chases who knows what thoughts and then re-emerge with the name of something or someone who has gone fishing in the maze of his memory. At the beginning, these absences seem only small quirks, perhaps due to age but soon they are filled with memory gaps, errors in identifying people. A visit to the hospital confirms the worst hypotheses: a brain cancer that leaves more or less a week of life. Her husband is rendered impotent by despair, all responsibilities fall on Kōsuke, the eldest son, while Shunpei, the younger, seems to have difficulty getting out of the still somewhat childish spirit of his age and understanding the extent of the tragedy.
As the hours pass, the painting gradually changes, revealing truths different from what appeared. In fact, it emerges that the economic situation of the parents is disastrous: not being able to cope with the mortgage payments of the house, they are heavily indebted and Kōsuke has even to act as their guarantor. What’s more, Reiko, to find the money needed for daily expenses and with the unconsciousness given by the disease continuously open new debit cards that then fails to repay. Kōsuke, opposed by his wife, slowly yields, to seek comfort in a paid lover. Shunpei, however, precisely because of his initial carefreeness and his being transparent, slowly takes on a more responsible and useful role for the whole family . He will try to deny the initial tragic diagnosis and finally find a different interpretation of the state of the mother, which will allow her at least to be operated and to shift the life expectancy from the order days to that of the years. The operation will rejoin the family. The embrace of the three men at the exit of Reiko from the operating room can hardly leave unresponsive.
From film to film, Ishii Yūya is honing his own style of human stories that revolve around a family concept adapted to the times, from top-down views sometimes almost vertical, close-ups intense as regards the movements of the soul but of fields long or semi-long for the most dramatic scenes, the music made above all by guitar, piano and drums (with the addition sometimes of a violin), sweet and light but always with a melancholy vein.
The theme of the family, in fact, seems to consolidate film after film. Of course, it is not Ozu’s family or Yamada Yōji’s popular rhetorical re-elaboration, or that seen in Koreeda’s stylistic and quotation essay, nor the disintegrated family of Sono or others. It is the normal, current, ordinary family of today. Certainly not unharmed by the attacks of an external dehumanized reality and in the process of progressive disintegration but still always family. Examples of this attention are a little of all his recent films, such as Kawa no soko kara konnichi wa (Sawako Decides, 2010) or Hara ga kore nande (Mitsuko Delivers, 2011). Even Fune wo amu carries on a double “family” talk, the traditional one that the protagonist builds with the landlady’s nephew, and the more metaphorical one of the dictionary’s editors.
Ishii has the ability to tell and reach our sensibility without having to resort to stylistic hyperbole, as he does, to mention one among many, Nakashima Tetsuya (see his recent Kawaki, The World of Kanako, 2014). With a sweet and credible fictional style, sometimes a bit ‘starring, tells us about life, a life that could also be ours