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Chanto tsuteru (Be Sure to Share)

Posted by martinteller on February 18, 2015

Shiro (Akira… just Akira) is a 27-year-old magazine editor.  His father Tetsuji (Eiji Okuda) was strict at home and even stricter as Shiro’s soccer coach in high school.  Not abusive, but stern enough to keep Shiro at a distance.  But now Tetsuji is in the hospital, suffering from cancer.  Shiro wants to connect with him, and the two plan a fishing trip after Tetsuji recovers.  But that day may never come, especially when Shiro gets upsetting news that he can’t share with his father, his mother (Keiko Takahashi) or his longtime girlfriend Yoko (Ayumi Itô).

Sion Sono is known for going to extremes.  His movies feature wild techniques, and showcase sex and violence to beyond excess.  The movie that first garnered him international attention was Suicide Club, about high school children killing themselves en masse.  The film prior to this one was Love Exposure, a dizzying 4-hour epic about — among other things — an upskirt photo gang.  So it’s more than a little surprising to see him delve into quiet, restrained human drama.

But there’s often a dose of poignancy to Sono’s work.  Here it’s simply laid out open, separated from the chaos that usually surrounds it.  The chronology is fragmented in a way that leaps between time frames — often without the viewer realizing it until several minutes into a scene — but in general it’s a very straightforward narrative without flashy tricks… or disturbing content.  Interestingly, it’s the one macabre event in the story that proves to be the most moving.  Not that there aren’t other touching moments in the film (there are) but it’s as if Sono is saying that when the chips are down, it’s the extremes you’re willing to go that really show the kind of person you are inside.  Akira does a fine job as Shiro, haunted by memories of a stern taskmaster but able to put them aside to bond with his father.  The other actors are good as well, but it’s really Akira’s show.

I liked this movie, but I can’t put it in quite the same league as Love Exposure or Noriko’s Dinner Table.  Sono proves that he can operate in a quieter mode, but despite a few strong moments, overall the film doesn’t have a ton of power or depth.  Nonetheless, it’s nice and it’s respectful and it’s put together very well (except the jangly guitar score gets tiresome).  And it portrays some aspects of humanity quite beautifully… certain needs and fears are expressed with some degree of eloquence and gentle finesse.  Rating: Very Good (83)


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