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Japan 2002
Directed by
Takeshi Kitano
113 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Takeshi Kitano's fatalistically romantic account of the pain of love is a slow-moving, often visually-striking film that opens with a bunraku performance, a Japanese form of puppet theatre and then segues into three separate stories all given Kitano's uniquely enigmatic, distanced treatment.

The main story concerns Matsumoto (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and Sawako (Miho Kanno), "bound beggars" wandering the countryside, the former atoning for his heartlessness in breaking off his engagement to the latter who has lost her mind as a result. The second involves a yakuza boss, Hiro (Tatsuya Mihashi), who jilted a good woman (Chieko Matsubara) as a young man and now, at the end of his life, returns to their trysting place to look for her. The third is about a pop idol named Haruna (Kyoko Fukada) and a fan (Tsutomu Takeshige) obsessed with her.

Despite its being grounded in traditional Japanese theatrical form and cultural values in general, the Western viewer willing to appreciate the importance given to the formal and poetic aspects here over and above the narrative elements and willing to surrender to Kitano's characteristic melancholic worldview, will find this an intriguing film.




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