Pandora no Hako / パンドラの匣 / Pandora’s Box
Celebrating the centenary of Osamu Dazai’s birth, no less than 3 productions of his lost generation novels are coming to the big screen this year. Villon’s Wife, which won for Kichitaro Negishi best new director award at Monteal this year, opens thtoughout Japan in October, Maverick producer, Genjiro Arato, is making a version of Dazai’s most famous novel, No Longer Human. Pandora no Hako (Pandora’s Box), a minor novel by the great writer, under the direction of Masanori Tominaga, unfortunately lives on as a minor movie. Tominaga, who raised some eyebrows with his offbeat period piece, The Pavillion Salamandre, seemed perfect for helming this period piece (the end of World War II). The protagonist, young Hibari (Shouta Sometani), suffering from tuberculosis, is sent to a recovery asylum, where he comes of age amidst suffering oldsters and a pair of young nurses. Even with a fine cast of character actors and wonderful period detail, the story of a Dazai surrogate, paralyzed by life, history and illness, makes for a film equally stymied in direction.
Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2009