DVD/Blu-ray Review: Himizu – A Film By Sion Sono
A boy and a girl struggle to survive a harsh and unsympathetic world!
Himizu is an adaptation of a manga by Furuya Minoruset that takes place soon after the earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan in March 2011. It tells the story of a 14-year-old boy, Yuichi Sumida (Shota Sometani), who wants nothing more than to live a ‘mundane’ life, hence the title of the film which means “mole”. Although his parents have abandon him, his father, whom wishes him dead, returns every so often to give him a beating and take what little money he has. Yuichi’s only friends are a group of destitute survivors and fellow student, Keiko Chazawa (Fumi Nikaido), who is also hated by her parents. Following a sequence of unfavourable events, Yuichi’s life soon falls further into despair.
There is an old saying in Japanese that perfectly expresses the essence behind what Himizu is really all about: Nana korobi yaoki, which when translated means “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. This proverb clearly defines the mental attitude of the Japanese during times of adversity. Never give up! Here lies the heart of Himizu.
Writer/director Sion Sono’s (Suicide Club, Love Exposure) ability to take us out of our comfort zone and get us to question our own mortality is what makes the film such a success as well as the outstanding performances from its two young actors – who became the first Japanese actors to win the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the 68th Venice Film Festival – which goes from extreme to sorrowful. Nikaido is especially terrific as the hopeful school girl, Keiko. Everyone needs a friend like Keiko, someone who’ll never give up on us, no matter how many times we push them away – someone who can see the good in us during times when we act against our better nature. Sono regular actor Denden (Cold Fish) also delivers a convincing performance as Kaneko, the managing director of a Money Lenders company which is actually being run by the yakuza. Former gravure idol now actress and wife of Sono, Megumi Kagurazaka (Guilty of Romance), makes an appearance as well, if somewhat brief. You may feel her character is pointless, and it probably is, but it’s not distracting – and she’s not in a scene long enough to do it any damage.
With its sombre landscape, Himizu is not a pleasant film to watch by any means (not many Sono films are) and the brutal violent scenes between Yuichi and his father are unsettling to watch. But Sono is not a filmmaker who likes to play it safe – we are meant to feel uneasy whilst watching his films.
However, beneath the film’s gloomy exterior lies a narrative that expresses a positive message of hope and how compassion from others can often save us from a life of darkness and misery. It is a harrowing and heart-felt film that deserves the appraisal it has been receiving since its release in 2011.
70 minute ‘Making Of’
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Interview with actor Denden
Label: Third Window Films
Release date: 6th August 2012
Running time: 129 mins
Genre: Drama with scenes of violence
Director: Sion Sono
Sandie has a keen interest in Anime, Manga and all things Japanese. Her interests other than reviewing are Japanese Language, dress and culture, liking Harajuku Girls, Gothic Lolita, folding some neat Origami, drawing her own Manga characters, writing her own Manga stories and everything in between.
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