Flower of Shanidar / Shanidaru no Hana / シャニダールの花
Gakuryu Ishii’s new low budget fantasy, Flower of Shanidar, certainly makes a giant leap from his previous outing, Ikiterumono wa inai no ka, but still well misses the (high) marks set from his 35-year career. In Flower of Shanidar, Ishii takes potentially clever idea – a future where parasitic flowers are grown and harvested on young women for making medicine (with deadly results) – and manages to wring it through some touching scenes, some first-class bad acting (from the leads, Gou Ayano and Haru Kuroki) and a long denouement that manages to suck out anything worthwhile in an avalanche of overwrought sentimentality and new-agey vapidity. On the plus side, the trio of willing guinea pigs, Yurie (Ayumi Ito), Miku (Rio Yamashita) and Haruka (Yuiko Kariya), though bordering on cliché, are well-developed. As Yoshizaki, head scientist with a bit of conscience, Kanji Furitachi’s talents are sorely underused. The film can’t figure out if it’s a parable of corporate malfeasance, an exploration of moral choices, a love story or a new age paean. It fails on all accounts.
Originally published in EL Magazine, July 2013.