15 October 2012

The Land of Hope / Kibô no kuni (Shion Sono, 2012, Japan) CIFF

The premise of this movie is that an earthquake and resultant tidal wave have caused an explosion at a nuclear power plant. So, very timely. It's funny how different this movie is from what an American filmmaker would do with this type of premise. I can't help but thinking the American interpretation of this type of story would either been an disaster based action film or some kind of thriller that chases down the government and corporate individuals who would somehow serve as the bad guys. This film certainly dismisses the government response and is generally pretty cynical about expectations for a forthright or effective response from authorities.
In reality though, this movie is all about relationships that sustain us in difficult situations. As this movie was nearing its ending, I found myself thinking it worked so well as a metaphor for the human condition. If you're as cynical as I probably am, you'll probably agree with me. At the center of the film is an elderly pair living at the edge of the city. In fact, their property is steps from the line of evacuation, which means pretty much that everyone leaves except for them. The film also follows the story of their son and his wife, as well as a few of the neighbors who were evacuated.
This is one of those movies where you find yourself halfway through feeling a little bored, but by the last fifteen minutes you're so moved you can't believe you ever thought it was plodding. I imagine that some people won't respond to the way the film wraps up like I did, which may be why it has a relatively low score on IMDB. I almost didn't go see this movie because of the mixed reviews, but now I'm really glad I did. I found myself desperate to see it again the next day, but I can't imagine when it will be possible. It's such a beautifully made film. All these moments of whimsy I don't want to describe here and some really phenomenal performances, especially by the actors playing the elderly couple. So beautiful.

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