a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Land of Hope / Kibou no Kuni / 希望の国

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After floundering recently with nihilistic, audience-abusing films, Land of Hope shows Shion Sono turning his back on his predictable brand of loaded cynicism. Land of Hope begs the question of his sincerity, but giving Sono the benefit of the doubt, it looks like 3.11 may have made a new man of him. The film centers on an elderly couple, Yasuhiko (Isao Natsuyagi) and Cheiko (Naoko Otani), holding out in the no-man’s zone near Fukushima. The son, Yoichi (Jun Murikami) working through longstanding issues with his parents takes his wife Izumi (Megumi Kagurazaka) to the city where her fear of radiation drives her mad. Meanwhile Yasuhiko tries to keep his daily routines as Cheiko shows more and more signs of senility. Sono takes a family drama, instigated by the disaster, sets it against surreal backdrop that now exists in Fukushima and lets it rip with searing images and great performances. The film is a little over-the-top with its nods to Tarkovsky and sometimes overblown sentimentality. Still Sono shows he can make something unexpected and now, heartfelt.

Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2012.

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

October 1, 2012 at 9:06 am

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