Dendera / デンデラ
Daisuke Tengan’s Dendera takes off where his very famous father, Shohei Imamura’s The Ballad of Narayama left off. Taking the story of a village whose elderly women are taken into the mountains to die, Tenden’s version imagines they become a community of survivors, bent on revenge upon their uncaring families. He should have left well enough (or rather his father’s greatness) alone. And he should heed some basics of dramatic setup. When you introduce toothless grinning idiot twin hags in the first act, you should use them in the third. Instead all one gets is rather sloppy filmmaking a mess of veteran actresses wrapped in overdesigned primitivist costumes, several bear attacks, a sort of a Lord of Flies-ish setup (equally symbolically heavy, but with far less intelligence), rather broad and ridiculous characterizations and an avalanche thrown in for good measure. In a simplistic heroine’s journey where revenge is ultimately had by summoning up her inner Mama Grizzly, Dendera attempts a crypto-feminist statement, but ultimately slips, slides and falls in its own triteness.
Originally published in EL Magazine, July, 2011