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August 20, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

Review – Himizu

If your homeland was violently and unexpectedly wrecked, and your family missing or worse, would it be possible to convey the disintegration of your life with an unembellished story? Sion Sono’s Himizu centres on the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami last year with the addition of fantastical elements, which allow the film to reach otherwise unattainable levels of horror and weirdness.

Sono’s cruel post-apocalyptic Japan is adapted from a manga of the same name. Survivors, like typically brooding teenager Sumida, dream of wandering silently through infinite aisles of washed up debris. Appearing just as isolated and shell-shocked while awake, characters are desperate to mend their lives. Sumida craves normality; to live as peacefully as a mole (himizu). Meanwhile he is continually assaulted by his drunken father, attacked by debt collectors from the Yakuza, and followed home by a girl from school. Keiko is obsessed with Sumida—‘I am a stalker,’ she admits gleefully, a ‘sutuku’. Even so, she is not left to be a dimensionless fanatic and develops into a volatile and admirable character. Keiko provides the film with much needed vibrancy that sullen, cold-blooded Sumida lacks.

The two develop a violent relationship tied together with loss and fury. The film becomes increasingly painful to watch as characters slip into tortured madness, echoing the wounds and displacement suffered by those uprooted by the tsunami on March 11. Constant and sometimes graphic brutality pervades everyday interactions to the extent that it becomes a primary means of communication, and combined with the length of the film this could make difficult watching for some. Even so, the harrowing plot twists are enthralling and portrayed elegantly.



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