PURSUIT OF LONELINESS Feature Film 96 mins
Official selection Sundance Film Festival
LEFT HANDED Feature Film 104 mins
Best Feature - Milan International Film Festival
Best Feature - L'Aquila International Film Festival
Best Feature - Japan Film Festival Los Angeles
Best Feature - Rhode Island International Film Festival
© gary young MMXX
A British debutant director shoots a film in Japan with a cast of amateurs. And the film is shot in black-and-white. On paper that looks like a risky and obscure experiment, but the result is wonderfully controlled and balanced, like the work of an experienced Japanese director from a past generation.
The protagonist is the schoolboy Hiroshi, although he's not on screen much. He suffers from the typically Japanese phenomenon of hikikomori, which primarily affects boys. It stands for a total withdrawal from social life. The family takes care of the victim, but shame makes them keep silent about the situation, that can last few years. In Japan, 1 million kids suffer from this mysterious psychological condition.
The film maker meticulously reveals the effect of the illness on Hiroshi's surroundings, but wisely does not enter his room, so that the boy's behaviour remains a puzzle. You could say that the real protagonist of the film is Yoshiko, the boy's mother. It's also her life that is completely destroyed, even though she continues to pretend to the outside world that everything is normal.
It seems an obvious conclusion that Takao Saiki, a Japanese producer with a company in Los Angeles, conceived the East-West construction of the film. It worked out well. The foreign film maker tackled the sensitive Japanese problem cautiously but without shame. (GjZ)