Just Pretended to Hear / Kikoeteru, furi wo shita dake
Kaori Imaizumi’s first film, Just Pretended to Hear, shows the sure signs of a burgeoning talent. An expanded version of a shorter film she made as her graduation final for the Tokyo Film School, she learned her lessons well. The story revolves around 13 year old Sachi (Hana Nonaka), shell-shocked after the death of her mother. Nozomi (Meru Goda) walks into her life – a demanding, but endearing, mentally impaired new school chum, who ends up splintering her loyalties and cliquishness with her long standing girlfriends while helping her in her get through her great loss. In the meantime, her bereaved father (Takayuki Suguki) loses it completely. The setup is simple – a young girl coming to terms with loss. In the hands of director, Imaizumi, the resonances, honesty and the unexpected left turns of the plot, push Sachi’s emotional journey into intriguing and ultimately moving territory. She pulls out stunning performances from a set of first-time actors. The young Hana walks a tight wire of emotions brilliantly. She nails the vulnerability, confusion and darkness inherent in mourning.
Originally published in EL Magazine, August 2012.