Reviewed by: Bryoz
Released by: Third Window Films
Age Rating: 18
Region: 2 - UK
Length: 129 minutes
Audio: Japanese 5.1 Surround
The new film from Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Cold Fish) Himizu tells the powerful story of two teenagers’ struggle to live in dystopian future Japan destroyed by a natural disaster.
Keiko (Fumi Nikaido) is a fourteen year old girl obsessed with Yuichi (Shota Sometani, Isn’t Anyone Alive?), in fact she is self admittedly his stalker. She collects his words and wallpapers her room with them, repeating them like a prayer and getting overexcited at spending any time with him. Yuichi is going through troubling times, his mother has left, leaving him to run the family business and his drunken father has run up debts with the yakuza which he must repay.
When young Yuichi is pushed too far he embarks on a violent campaign of revenge against society’s evil doers and it’s up to Keiko to try to bring him back to the path of a decent man.
A heart-rending drama and powerful love story, Himizu features startling performances from its young leads who became the first Japanese actors to win the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the 68th Venice Film Festival.
"I know flies in milk.
Specs against white
I know, I know it.
I know a man by his clothes.
Even I know that much.
I know fair weather from foul.
I know that.
I know the apple by the tree.
That I know.
I know who labors and who loafs.
I know all.
All save myself."
Based on a best selling manga of the same name by Minoru Furuya, Himizu is brought to life on screen by director Sion Sono.
Himizu takes place in Japan, shortly after last year's Tohoku disaster. The dark story follows the lives of several people after the atrocities that devastated the country, though not specifically exploring the event itself. The film looks at the dystopian lifestyle of the younger generation, and the hardships they face when abandoned by those responsible for them.
The story follows 14 year old, Yuichi Sumida and his struggle to live a normal life, despite the odds stacked against him. With his abusive parents having more or less abandoned him, pursuing their own selfish lifestyles, Sumida drops out of school in order to run his mother's boathouse. His classmate Keiko Chazawa obsesses endlessly over Sumida, and noticing his behavior decides to directly involve herself, despite his very clear objections. Things get even darker and Sumida finds his emotions raging out of control. Believing he has no one to turn to, he shuts himself out from the rest of the world and becomes entirely lost in his own spiraling thoughts.
The film is interspersed with classic music and actual film footage from villages left destroyed by the tsunami and earthquakes. These images are certainly pushing boundaries. Due to the nature of Sono's extreme storytelling, it's difficult to say whether or not events are dealt with sensitively, but some of the supporting cast feature backstories, which have shaped their characters realistically.
I really enjoyed Himizu. It's the first time I've seen a Sono directed film, but despite some drawn-out scenes I was engrossed the entire way through. I think it had just the right amount of bizarre, Japanese humor, whilst maintaining the story's journey. I was also surprised at how much I was able to empathise with the characters despite their psychotic natures. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in Japanese sociology. Whilst strongly exaggerated, a lot of the themes and attitudes expressed are typical of a modern day Japan.
Himizu is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Third Window Films.