Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Japan 2000
Directed by
Takeshi Kitano
121 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Synopsis: Masao is a young boy living alone with his grandmother in an apartment in Tokyo. Left alone on school holidays he decides to go and visit his mother who lives in the countryside. He is accompanied by Mister, the husband of his grandmother's friend, who takes him on a quite unusual series of adventures.

Kitano is one of those directors who rates highly with critics for his contemporaneity of subject matter and post-modern playfulness. In this respect, his previous film, the revenge movie, Hana-Bi, was rapturously received, though I must admit I can remember nothing of it than the final sequence on the beach. Kikujiro will no doubt be similarly praised, for it very knowingly plays with the filmic form and although the content is much lighter than the earlier film, it has the same episodic, even fragmented, approach to the narrative (and the same anti-star, the squint-eyed, pot-bellied, curmudgeonly Beat Takeshi).

Like Wim Wenders' Alice in the Cities, Gianni Amelio's The Stolen Children, Jan Sverak's Kolya, or even Charles Crichton's Hunted, Kikujiro has as its central idea the story of an adult reluctantly charged with the task of escorting a child to a certain destination, and the transformation of the former as he (all males in these examples) are forced by circumstance to engage with the child and thus re-awaken the values which they had long discarded in the passage to their adulthood. All these films handle their evidently universal theme very well, without sliding into mawkishness and Kikujiro is no exception.

There are many magical moments here (heralded by the decorative opening titles), Kitano's dead-pan humour and visual inventiveness delivers many enjoyable scenes and the score adds to the whimsicality of the directorial approach. Although not traditionally pictorial, the cinematography is striking with a marvellous clarity of image that is almost hyper-real. For the ordinary viewer however Kitano's aforementioned film school liberties may seem a little self-indulgent. Despite its virtues, this is longish, meandering film and if you feel like grabbing a quick dose of escapist entertainment then look elsewhere.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst