Wednesday, January 23, 2013

HIMIZU (2011) movie review

Himizu (2011) d. Sono, Shion (Japan)

Writer/director Sono (Suicide Club) delivers an overwhelming and cathartic cinematic response to the tragic events of March 11, 2011, when Japan was rocked by a 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. An adaptation of Minoru Funuraya’s manga, Sono explores the life of a 15-year-old (an extraordinary Shota Sometani) in the wake of the aftermath, whose life was oppressive enough before Mother Nature stepped in, what with a philandering mother, drunken and abusive father, faltering family boat rental business and a small community of homeless squatters living outside his front door.

Wrestling daily with suicidal thoughts, the youth resists emotional engagement with his community of well-intentioned misfits, the most determined of which being an idolizing female classmate (Fumi Nikaido) whose unsinkable spirit provides Himizu’s bloody beating heart. Not an easy film to watch for multiple reasons, but one that had tears rolling down my cheeks during its final moments as Sono and his two young leads (both of whom won awards at the Venice Film Festival last September) deliver an excruciatingly raw and devastating message of hope for a crippled nation. Not the least bit “fantastic,” gory or futuristic, but a breathtaking work of beauty and soul.

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