Archive for November 14th, 2012

Shigeru is a deaf garbage collector who happens upon a broken and discarded surfboard whilst on his job. He repairs the surfboard and tries his hand at surfing with encouragement from his also deaf girlfriend Takako. Though ridiculed at first by the surfing clique down at the beach, he soon wins their admiration for trying his best and actually improving his surfing technique. The local surf shop owner Nakajima then realises that Shigeru is good enough to take part in a regional surfing competition but does he actually have a chance to win?

A quiet serene movie isn’t something you’d normally associate with Takeshi Kitano given he’s more famous for his violent yakuza and comedy movies. Yet here he is directing a movie which will surprise many of his fans as it is nothing like any of his other works. Credit where it’s due that Kitano can direct a simple minimalistic movie on the back of having made 2 violent yakuza thrillers. It shows how versatile he can be. This movie has a heartwarming story with no action and no dialogue whatsoever from the leading characters. A recipe for disaster some might say but not when you’ve got Kitano at the helm. This is an excellent movie which draws the viewer into the silent world that Shigeru and Takako inhabit. It captures the beauty of the sea which Kitano would revisit in a couple of later movies he would make. Shigeru is a character the viewer will root for – an underdog who doesn’t give up for lack of trying. Though extremely bad at surfing at first, he skips work so that he can practice and improve. This isn’t one of those movies which sees Shigeru triumph against all odds in a surfing competition, in fact there no glorification of his exploits. It avoids the cliches you might expect in a typical American surf movie. This is more of a profound slice of life story and you gradually grow to care about the deaf couple. The dialogue you hear in this movie is delivered by the supporting cast. The ending is rather tragic and also a bit perplexing.

The movie has a slow measured pace about it which some might call boring but Kitano does this deliberately so that the viewer can feel and relate to the story that unfolds. It’s not just about a man’s desire to become a surfer, it also deals about love and determination. Kuroudo Miki and Hiroko Oshima are perfect in their roles and you can see the love they have through their expressions using their eyes and smiles. You don’t need to hear them speak to realise the deep bond the two have for one another. This movie was also the start of Kitano’s long running relationship with composer Joe Hisaishi. The soundtrack compliments the melancholic mood and atmosphere that hangs in the air for this story very well.

A Scene At The Sea is a sad, quiet, haunting and beautiful masterpiece from Takeshi Kitano which established his skills as a storyteller and director. It’s a movie that is all too easily skipped in favour of his yakuza stories but to do that is to miss out on a extraordinary tale. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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