Genpin / 玄牝
Naomi Kawase’s unrepentant new age-ism takes another bow in her new film Genpin. Through testimonials, interviews and scenes of daily life and therapeutic routines, Kiwase languidly documents the natural childbirth clinic founded by Dr. Tadashi Yoshimura some 40 years ago. Though not particularly profound or deep, moments of Genpin linger. Scenes of pregnant women doing rhythmic deep squats as they endlessly wash the clinic walls (a pregnancy exercise), client/acolytes of Dr. Yoshimura cutting wood (not only a source of free firewood, but also good for the pelvis), and 3 (count ‘em 3) long scenes of childbirth. Despite documenting the profound experience of bringing a new human into the world – and the childbirth scenes are quite moving – Genpin lacks much in the way of tension, narrative or drive. Though the testimonials hint a cult-like undercurrent it remains unexplored. It’s like a feel-good news report needlessly padded to feature length. Kiwase’s covered similar ground with a much more complex and moving effect in Tarichime (2006), where she documented her own pregnancy and birth giving.