[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
• NAGATA Mamoru
• SUGAWARA Kazuhiro
• MAEDA Hirotaka
• HOSHINO Hideki
[ Cast ]
• AYANO Go Tatsuo
• IKEWAKI Chizuru Chinatsu
• SUDA Masaki Takuji
[ Staff ]
• Original Story: SATO Yasushi
• Screenplay: TAKADA Ryo
• Cinematography: KONDO Ryuto
• Sound Recording: YOSHIDA Noriyoshi
• Editor: KIMURA Etsuko
[ Production Company ]
”The Light Shines Only There” Production Committee
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Tokyo Theatres, HAKODATE CINEMA IRIS
[ Production Studio ]
Release Date: April 19, 2014
Running Time: 120 min
Genre: Drama, Feature
Screening Format: DCP
Screening Format with Subtitles
[ Story ]
Here Comes the Bride, My Mom!
director O Mipo presents this powerful depiction of love between a man and woman who find each other in the depths of pover t y. Ikewaki Chizuru (JOSEE, THE TIGER AND THE FISH) gives a fullycommitted performance as a woman supporting her family by prostituting herself. Screened in the World Competition section of the 2014 Montreal World Film Festival.
Tatsuo (Ayano Go) has quit his job, and is frittering his time away. By chance, he meets a young man named Takuji (Suda Masaki) and ends up falling in love with his older sister Chinatsu (Ikewaki). Tatsuo and Chinatsu are both burdened with dark pasts, but just as light begins to shine into their lives, events take a tragic turn.
[ Official Site ]
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
2014 Montreal World Film Festival, World Competition, Best Director Award
I got ready to watch this film based on conflicting expectations. In addition to being the Oscar nominated Japanese film for the best foreign film, it was the best film of the year according to Kinema Junpō and at the same time the worst film of the year according to Eiga Geijutsu. The objective truth in the cinema is not there. I asked myself, who has had a sharper look? The story, taken from a novel by Satō Yasushi (later suicidal) is this.
Tatsuo (Ayano Gō) drags himself into oblivion in a northern port city after leaving work in a quarry because he feels responsible for the death of a colleague. In a playroom where he takes his suffering for a few hours, he meets Takuji (Suda Masaki), provisionally free on the word after stabbing a person. Between the two there is an elementary understanding and Takuji brings Tatsuo to his house. There, in a hut on an equally degraded beach, live the family derelicts of Takuji: the father, who after a stroke is paralyzed in bed devoured by an animal fever sex. The mother who no longer holds the labors and moves like stunned and his elder sister Chinatsu (Ikewaki Chizuru), who tries to keep up the situation by stoically passing between prostitution and work in a squid processing company. Fra Tatsuo and Chinatsu are born an attraction that both, however, are afraid of bringing out from their respective abysses. Painfully, two steps forward and one back, Tatsuo opens up to Chinatsu and returns to life again but the problems grow. Chinatsu, in fact, although with clenched teeth, is the lover of an arrogant industrial who gives work to Takuji and therefore guarantees its temporary freedom. In a crescendo of blackmail, harassment and violence, Takuji, to defend his sister and friend, explodes and stabs his master. Her sacrifice will allow the two young men to dare look at life again with a thread of hope. As the title says, a light only shines down there.
The thirty-seven O Mipo, in his short filmography, had already made some interesting titles in the field of comedy. Okan no yomeiri (Here Comes the Bride, My Mom, 2010), was a fun and delicate story played on the relationship between a daughter and a mother who remarries with a very young boy. The episode she signed in the omnibus Sabi otoko, sabi onna (Quirky Guys and Gals, 2011), illustrates the progressive transformation of the meeting between a client who protested for a disservice and the official who went home to bring the apology of the ‘company.
With this film he makes the leap into a more mature and dramatic dimension. The tone is uniformly taut and dramatic, without smudging, and even from the point of view of the camera control, you can feel a sure hand that expresses itself through an appropriate and involving use of the most different techniques. Some scenes are amazing. The first image of the film, for example, is a wooden floor. The chamber is almost perpendicular to the floor and “enters” it first. Advances in the foreground and meets the naked body (with the briefs) of a man. Always in the foreground he runs through showing him while he sleeps. Cut images of an accident in a mountain quarry. Cut Close-up of the man’s wide open eyes. The protagonist has awakened from the nightmare that haunts him and “enters” reality, that is in the film.
Or the sequence of the causal meeting but full of meanings of Tatsuo and Chinatsu in the red light bar. Tatsuo, drunk, enters. Twilight. He sits at an end of the counter. The camera takes it from the other end. A knock is heard from an internal door. The room is now behind Tatsuo’s back and takes a hand that gives the keys to the owner of the bar. This tells Tatsuo that there is a free girl and asks if he wants to get away with her. Tatsuo winks semi-unconscious and enters the prostitute: it’s Chinatsu. Mutual surprise. The camera moves back to the opposite end of the desk and resumes Tatsuo in distress. Then Chinatsu, also in difficulty. They fight. She slaps him. He slaps himself. Goes out.
Even the story is touching, the characters seem to live days that are the continuation of nightmares and nights that are the amplification of the drifts of the day, the exteriors are landscapes of the soul marked by rust, waste, desolate warehouses, wrecks of boats, abandoned cars, and the interiors are not far behind, made as they are of water filled with dishes to clean up, overflowing ashtrays, empty bottles upside down, old newspapers, crumpled clothes thrown at random.
In the end, who was right, Kinema Junpō or Eiga Geijutsu? In my opinion neither of them. The film is noticeable and can not be easily liquidated. However, it is not a masterpiece. His problem, I think, is that it is “too fair”, “too dramatic”, too much. Tatsuo slams his suffering in the face of the world, does not eat, drinks and smokes repeatedly, can not walk, stumbles – not only when he is drunk – so much is crushed by the weight of his pain. There are too many people who take their heads in desperation. The music is too didactic to emphasize the travails of the characters.
There’s nothing wrong with this film, but there’s nothing new either. The family as a cell of poverty and madness, youthful anger, the abuses of men over women, rich men over poor men, solidarity between outcasts. In these terms, the ending with love as salvation is the only undue novelty of themes and strands already seen.
The director has done a remarkable job but it is in the control of the actors that does not yet seem to have found its expressive fullness. Ayano Gō has been seen in more convincing parts, while here he is dragging his suffering in a repetitive and passive way. Certainly the film would not have been without Ikewaki Chisuru’s sternly painful performance, but she too – one of the two best Japanese actresses of the moment along with Andō Sakura – could have given more if directed better. Suda Masaki, in the side of Chinatsu’s brother, finds a convincing acting.