Archive for August 25th, 2012

Maborosi (1995)

A 12 year old girl called Yumiko witnesses her grandmother running away from home saying she wants to go back to her hometown to die. She is never seen again by her. Fast forward years later and we find Yumiko as an adult and she’s settled down in Osaka and is happily married to Ikuo and they have a young son. Yumiko’s happiness comes crashing down when her husband fails to come home one night and a policeman comes knocking on her door. Ikuo has committed suicide with a train killing him instantly. Yumiko doesn’t understand why he would do this as he gave no indication that anything was wrong. As time moves on, Yumiko’s neighbour matches her up with a nice man (also a widower) and she marries him. Yumiko and her young son move from Osaka to a beautiful and quiet fishing village. She is happy again with her life with a wonderful and caring husband. But a trip back to Osaka for the wedding of her brother brings back unpleasant memories of Ikuo’s suicide and when she comes back home to her husband her mood has changed to being sombre and depressed. The thoughts of the suicide weighs heavily on her mind once again, trying to understand the reason behind it. Then she disappears from home and her husband searches frantically for her………

Maborosi is a movie all about overcoming grief and what it can do to a person especially when the death of somebody close is sudden and unexplained. The story plays out slowly and delicately by director Hirokazu Kore-eda. Having watched and enjoyed several of his other movies I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. We follow the main character Yumiko first in Osaka and then in a small fishing village around her daily life – doing normal things that other young mothers would do – preparing food in her home, cleaning, picking up her son from neighbours etc. The movie is filled with dramatic pauses, minimal dialogue, plenty of long shots and is full of atmosphere. I liked the overall look of the movie. Emotions are portrayed through facial and bodily expression so you don’t see Yumiko being hysterical or crying after the loss of her first husband. Some viewers might say that Yumiko should cry her grief out of her system so she can move on with her life? Before she moves to the fishing village there are too many reminders of Ikuo to haunt Yumiko and the way he died around her home such as the bike that he stole and repainted green, the train tracks right outside her front door and the emptiness inside her home. But not even a change of location can entirely remove the painful memories from the deepest corners of her mind. Grief affects people in many different ways and the way that Yumiko tries to bury it at first but has to eventually get over it is what this movie is all about.

In every sense you could call this an “art movie” because some of the long shots are like living paintings. The cinematography and lighting is outstanding. The scene featuring two kids running around the edge of a lake which gives a reflection of their figures is stunning but that’s only just one I can point out. There are many beautiful images to make you sit up and admire them. Excellent performances from the cast but especially by debutant Makiko Esumi who plays Yumiko. The way she portrays her grief is brilliant by the way she looks wistfully at the sea from her home. Although only in the movie for the first 30 minutes, Tadanobu Asano gives a good account of himself as Yumiko’s first husband Ikuo.

A very good and brooding movie but it won’t be for everybody. I imagine a lot will find it boring and uninteresting but for the patient viewer it is very rewarding and the ending is very moving. It also explains the title of the movie for you. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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