Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Last Note

Gogo no yuigonjo; Drama, Japan, 1995; D: Kaneto Shindo, S: Haruko Sugimura, Nobuko Otawa, Hideo Kenzo

Yoko, an actress in her 50s, leaves Tokyo over the summer for a vacation in the hills. There she is unexpectedly visited by her colleague Tomie, who due to a brain sickness is constantly silent and needs the help of her husband, and who saves her from an assault of a criminal. But then the servant admits that she had a daughter with her deceased husband. Yoko then leaves and goes back to her home.

"A Last Note" is a quiet and stiff achievement by the then 83-year old director Kaneto Shindo, which won the Best Picture award at the Japanese Jury. To every minimalistic film, the basic rule is to find a balance between the rhythm when something is going on and when nothing is going on, yet here it seems the latter is more apparent, which brings it down. Maybe everything really is bland and underused, but it is crafted subtly and ambitiously, with excellent actors. The whole story flows as easily as a feather, especially actress Haruko Sigimura as actress Yoko, who throughout the story discovers how relative her love was towards her deceased husband when she discovers something about his past, by which the film gives a message how we may never know how the life may turn our perspectives upside down.


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