Himizu review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
A teenage boy living in a post-apocalyptic dystopian Japan finds himself turning to violence and murder in an attempt to soothe his soul; thankfully an equally alienated classmate is there to help him when he least expects it.
Set against the backdrop of some unknown natural disaster – an idea that was supposedly triggered in the director after witnessing the devastation of the recent tsunami – the film follows fifteen year old Sumida (Shota Sometani) who is forced to drop out of school in order to run his family’s boat rental service. His home life is a distorted reflection of the destroyed world outside as his mother and father dish out violent physical abuse with one hand and complete ignorance with the other. Despite his best attempts to live a quiet life under these upsetting circumstances the additional threat of gangsters and debt collectors eventually push Sumida over the edge and he finds himself heading down a path pocked with violence, danger and death. The only person in the world who seems to care about him is his former classmate Chazawa (Nikaido Fumi) who in turn makes it her mission to pull Sumida back from the brink of madness.
This painful – both emotionally and visually – yet touching movie comes from the hand of acclaimed Japanese director Shion Sono, who the more cinematically literate readers may know from his Hate Trilogy (Love Exposure, Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance) and will also immediately recognize his somewhat poetic style and visuals.
No amount of poetry can really distract from the gore of Himizu, which translates to “Mole”, but the violence is depicted in such a way as to compliment rather than stand in for the story. The narrative is played out in an almost Shakespearian fashion; with elements of great tragedy and wrong doing some how counter balanced by, albeit bizarre, acts of selflessness and caring. The film radiates with a sense of needing and deserving; the need for hope the right for justice.
A hard film to watch Himizu is painful and rewarding, beautiful and desolate, poetic and obscene; yet for fans of the genre and of the director himself this is a deep and intriguing piece that deserves far more recognition than it has yet been given.