Directed by Shion Sono – Written by Shion Sono

Starring: Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido

Japanese film doesn’t really have a big market over here, although it should do. There has been a bit of a manga fad going on, which I did hope would lead to interest in films from the country, but I was wrong. ‘Himizu’ 2011, was actually developed from the manga of the same name, and then adapted to reflect the disaster stricken Japan after suffering the earthquake in the same year of the release. This is all I knew going in to this film, I hadn’t seen any of Sion Sono’s films before, but the idea seemed interesting and the trailer looked great.

The story follows two school children (14) living in a dystopian Japan, their dreams only amount to having an ‘ordinary’ life, it’s all they can muster in this world. The lead role, Yuichi Sumida (Played by Shota Sometani) is hated by his dad, frequently beat by him and often told his existence is worthless. Whilst this is happening he fights off advances from his classmate, Keiko Chazawa (Fumi Nikaidou) who herself finds out her parents are building gallows in the house for their child to commit suicide.

The film was shot on location in the quake zones of Japan which brings with it a kick of reality. The director gives us a pan over an existing flattened city as one man is walking around in a daze. Sono was clever not to over do this sort of thing, this isn’t a documentary, but when it is used the emotion can hit you right at the core. Cinematography wise, this film is shot beautifully. Composition, framing, the lot has been considered brilliantly to give the film its look.

The film is somewhat a difficult watch. At times it does get a little repetitive with the violence. And the almost charmless relationship between the two leads gets tiresome with their constant back and forth. Sumida’s murderous hero fantasies also come across quite puerile but my very limited knowledge tells me this stems from the manga roots.

‘Himizu’ becomes much more accomplished on a deeper level, commenting on the state of post-disaster Japan and how the society is becoming sick and crazy. The performances are surprisingly good from the two teenage actors and grow in stature as the film progresses. This builds to a final scene where their performances become outrageously intense and achingly real, the ending to this film is so on the money it earned the film an extra star from me.

The young actors most definitely deserve their awards and this film most definitely deserves a watch.


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