Maborosi (Maboroshi no hikari, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 1995)
Not having seen a Kore-eda film before, the style of this film took a while to get a handle on. It is a film about grieving, about loss. A young woman with a newly born child loses her husband, who has apparently committed suicide. There is little dialogue and little development of relationship dynamics with much of the gaps to be filled in by the imagination of the audience. The film had the style of a 1970's art film and with a disappointingly scratchy print, it certainly looked it. There was a sense of timelessness about the film.
Kore-eda has an aesthetic that won't appeal to the casual film-goer. It is very slow-moving, and some of the indoor shots are quite dark. After a while, I got the sense that the viewer's attention is not meant to take in the whole screen, but rather parts of the screen such as the illuminated side of a woman's face in a dark room or the shapes of people reflected in water. Kore-eda seems fascinated with light and exploration of its use. Frames of illuminated subjects are contained within the larger screen frame. Light reflects of different surfaces, and at different times of the day. This is a film where you really need to 'get in the zone'.
I liked the film. It rewards the patient viewer and the ending was very moving. A repeat viewing will enhance my appreciation and I look forward to seeing more of Kore-eda's films at MIFF.
Links: Index of MIFF films reviewed to date / MIFF website