This was a watch out of curiosity. And I am glad I did. It is a film made by a relatively new director Yui Kiyohara who has only made one other movie in which information, let alone pictures, are hard to come by. Yui Kiyohara studied under horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa who has many works under his belt.
In a house a young girl and her mother share a house while the father is away. In the same house lives a young woman who invites an amnesiac woman to live with her. Noises can be heard from behind walls, things disappear and one wonders if there is something supernatural happening?
This work justifies Yui Kiyohara as a director, with the steady cinematography and the way she builds tension, slowly, like climbing up the stairs. It is also noticeable that this is a woman director’s work, especially in the way she frames her all female characters. They all have faults, might not be what they seem at first, but in the end there is something bigger going on and whose frustrations and fears all come to form in this one house.
Stories run parallel in this. An older woman is taking care of a child, while in the next a woman is taking care of an amnesiac, who is very much like a child. Meeting of different men in parallel, both who break a family that has formed inside. It is a watch where constant attention must be paid to catch details an as the stories merge, the parallels clasp in to one another. Which one is real? Are one ghosts or is there a world next to the one we are living now?
All the actresses and actors used are all new and this is their first movie. Yet they have such solidity in their performance that I thought they had been acting in front of the camera for years, and maybe they have, I am just on the other side of the world and haven’t seen them. The script is strong and methodical, yet there is such realness, the ordinary casualness and moments of lightness of the everyday that kudos has to be given to everyone for being so natural.
I know a few things about Japan, not of course as much as I should, but I know there is a need for space, especially in the big cities. This story takes place in what seems like a seaside town, with a lot of space, as the youth has been moving to greater cities for work. So I am not sure how to fit it here in any other way than thematically, that essentially as spaces get smaller, houses more cramped, people will essentially be living with others (or ghosts) in their own house, as well as the memories there are left in there.
Another parallel point could also be made that all the women shown are lonely in their own way and need companionship. So, in an unnatural way of either the supernatural or magic realism, these woman come together to live as a family, even if they don’t know it. They share a space, the same kitchen, rooms and walls. Only difference is that they don’t know the other exists. But there is a certain comfort in ghosts, it means we aren’t alone in an empty house with our troubles. They share it with us and wether its our imagination that makes them or if its real it gives us something of an unknown unseen family around us.
If you like slow paced supernatural mysteries this is the movie for you. It has been in the art house and festival circuit for a while, but has yet to see a full range release. So, bid your time if you think this is for you.
Thank you for reading!