Contemporary World Cinema
After making his name with genre flavoured efforts in the J-horror era like Pulse and The Cure, director Kiyoshi Kurosawa reinvented himself with a bleakly comedic domestic drama in the beautiful Tokyo Sonata. There was no going back to genre thrills after that breakthrough for the filmmaker. So while Kurosawa’s latest, Journey To The Shore, might boast a supernatural conceit, it is in no way a horror film. That’s both good and bad in this ambitious, yet ultimately dull effort.
Eri Fukatsu stars as a quiet piano teacher who never quite got over the loss off her husband. One evening he returns (played by Tadanobu Asano), explaining that he is in fact dead but has contently returned as a spirit. It’s a strange set up that gets stranger when Fukatsu asks Asano join him on a journey to meet the various people who assisted his long ghostly trip home. The film starts strong with a creepily intriguing presence that deals with the concept of a ghost in a tragically poetic manner, but eventually that mystery gives way to tedium.
Even in his genre efforts, Kurosawa always patiently explored his stories and built tension out his silences and quiet escalation. Here these techniques becomes nearly interminable after clever opening premise, in part thanks to Asano’s deliberately wooden performance but mostly because the story plays out in unfortunately maudlin and obvious ways. There are moments when the movie hits the otherworldly and almost fairy tale like tone that Kurosawa strives for. Unfortunately, the creaky grief metaphors and overbearing sentimentality that define much of the running time aren’t nearly as interesting.
SEP 16, 9:45pm @ Scotiabank 10
SEP 18, 12:00pm @ AGO Jackman Hall
SEP 20, 9:30pm @ Scotiabank 13