[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
• FUKASAWA Hiroshi
• SAITO Hiroyuki
[ Cast ]
• MATSU Takako HIRAI Tokiko
• KUROKI Haru NUNOMIYA Taki
• KATAOKA Takataro HIRAI Masaki
• YOSHIOKA Hidetaka ITAKURA Shoji
• TSUMABUKI Satoshi ARAI Takeshi
• BAISHO Chieko NUNOMIYA Taki
[ Staff ]
• NAKAJIMA Kyoko Original Story
• Screenplay: YAMADA Yoji
• Screenplay: HIRAMATSU Emiko
• Editor: ISHII Iwao
• Music: HISAISHI Joe
[ Production Company ]
SHOCHIKU, Sumitomo, TV Asahi, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Eisei Gekijo, Nippan, PIA, The Yomiuri Shimbun, TOKYO FM, HAKUHODO, GYAO!, ABC, NAGOYA BROADCASTING NETWORK, HTB, Hokuriku Asahi Broadcasting
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Release Date: January 25, 2014
Running Time: 136 min
Genre: Drama, Romance, Children/Family, Feature
Screening Format: DCP
Screening Format with Subtitles
[ Story ]
Master filmmaker Yamada Yoji adapts Nakajima Kyoko’s eponymous novel that won the 143rd Naoki Prize. Set against the backdrop of the “Showa Modern” period (1926 to 1945), it presents a full and mysterious account of a scandalous romance. Kuroki Haru’s performance was recognized with the award of a Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.
In 1936 in the suburbs of Tokyo, Taki (Kuroki), a maid working for the Hirai family, deeply admires Tokiko (Matsu Takako), the beautiful lady of the house. As war approaches, Tokiko’s relationship with a man named Itakura (Yoshioka Hidetaka) comes under suspicion. After much agonizing, Taki makes a fateful decision.
[ Official Site ]
[ Premiere ]
• International Premiere: 2014 Berlin International Film Festival
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
• 2014 Berlin International Film Festival, Competition, Silver Bear for Best Actress
• 2014 Hong Kong International Film Festival
• 2014 Sao Paulo International Film Festival
• 2014 Brisbane International Film Festival
Takeshi finds the diaries her late Aunt Taki, who had never married. Before Tokyo, in a small house with a red triangular roof, Taki was a waitress before the Second World War. The family that lived in the house consisted of three members: the husband, who worked in a toy company, his beautiful wife Tokiko and their five-year-old son Kyoichi. One day, her husband assumes Shoji, a young graduate of the art school. Both Taki and Tokiko are fascinated by the artistic talent of a man. But the war begins to corrode and then destroy everything, including interpersonal relationships within the home.
After Tōkyō kazoku (Tokyo Family) his re-enactment of Ozu Yasujirō’s Journey to Tokyo, which had neither convinced the public nor the critics, had indeed been judged the worst film of 2013 by Eiga geijutsu, Yamada Yōji returns to tell the period that precedes, crosses and follows the Second World War and the ambitions of conquest of Imperial Japan. As had already done in Kaabee (Our Mother) in 2008, Yamada structures the story on two temporal planes, actually three, considering that there is the present in which Taki has just died and a near past in which we see the old dialogue with the nephew, in addition to the remote period remembered by the old woman through her memories and the writing of her memoirs, which takes up most of the narration.
Contrary to what was written by many critics, to us the film seemed very subtle and far from trivial, naturally played a lot on the style of family drama, and it could not be otherwise, remember that after all it is a film Shōchiku aimed at a large audience, and that Yamada has always made this kind of work, certainly not for some, but not to be underestimated. The interpretation that earned the prize as best actress at this year’s Berlinale to the good Kuroki Haru, surprised and shocked by many, but even here we marvel at so much amazement, in its recreating shyness and a certain degree of innocence of those who as the protagonist from the extreme campaign of Yamagata went to the capital in the first decades of the last century, there is a lot of finesse and skill, above all in the silences and expressiveness of the body, by subtraction, however, for the way of being invisible while remaining present. The way to sit, to withdraw or listen to eclipse are really commendable. If in a character that seems to be always in the shadow of everything that happens in the house as a helper of the family and that hides his feelings, we can finally capture the unsaid and imagine the inner torment, well the merit is just of Kuroki’s interpretation. Which, moreover, finds an ideal “partner” in Matsu Takako and in his character of Tokiko, who manages to characterize the inner but superficial and “first world” torments of a wife who, after all, is a woman bored in society well-off of the time.
The criticisms of the film that describe it as flat, superficial and false because it does not describe the complexity of the period, with the total imperialist mobilization and social frictions present in the social strata, are the same ones that the nephew Takeshi pours on his grandmother when he scolds her that immediately after the massacre of Nankino, reported however as simple act of conquest by the media of the time, she worries about the balances in the shops of the capital. But this superficiality is precisely the cut with which Yamada describes and outlines that time and the people who lived it and if considered with more thought this superficiality becomes an even crueler and sharper criticism, complicates things even more and has a reverberation. almost an obscure presage also on the current Japanese situation.
Much more interesting is for Yamada to highlight the sadness and uselessness of life that pervades the character of Taki as an old woman, with the scene of crying towards the end where she sobs between sobs that she should not have lived that long. A scene of an unspeakable sadness and that in its ambiguity also tells us of the inevitable fracture of incommunicability that separates us from those who lived directly in the war period. What secretly pervades the entire feature from the very first scenes, in which you can see the crematorium’s chimney after the funeral of the old woman, is a sense of loss that is not only related to a family member or a loved one, but the sense of transience and irreparable loss that accompanies every death. The various objects, the picture of the red-roofed house to which the title refers, the diaries and all the objects that are put in the boxes after the funeral are personal memories but also artifacts that bear within them the sign of past experiences and of a world that no longer exists. Precisely for this reason the last thirty minutes of the films, with the action that returns to the present with Takeshi and his girlfriend tracing the old Kyoichi, the child son of Tokiko, Taki took care of, is superfluous and melancholy, almost a explanation of everything that had been mentioned and lightly brushed during the film. But this too and Yamada Yōji, take or leave. [Katsuyuki Nakanishi]