a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Tsuma no Kao / 妻の顔

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Turning a camera on his wife, Kiyoko, for 33 years, amateur filmmaker Akito Kawamoto documented her struggles as a Hiroshima survivor to her later years taking care of her bedridden mother (who passes away during the filming) and her own battle with thyroid cancer. As a tribute to his brave and rarely complaining spouse, the film brings up many more questions about the obsessiveness of the filmmaker himself. Like an amateur Ross McElwee, Kawamoto seems to have a knack for having the camera running at just the right times and has a decent eye composing his low-tech video footage. Unlike McElwee, he tends to let the camera run a bit too long and instead of creating an emotional distance and objectivity, Tsuma no Kao builds an unyielding tension. However, this tension seems to be less of measured strategy than an uncomfortable by-product of Kawamoto’s lack of filmmaking smarts. Nonetheless, Kiyoko san makes for a compelling subject, an average woman with normal hopes and aspirations affected by a momentous moment in history.


Originally published in EL Magazine, August 2009


Written by Nicholas Vroman

August 1, 2009 at 12:44 am

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