The End of the Special Times We Were Allowed / 私たちに許された特別な時間の終わり
Director Shingo Ota cut 30 minutes from his documentary’s original length of 151 minutes. If he’d cut another couple hours it might be an acceptable movie. The End of the Special Times We Were Allowed is being touted a serious look at the issue of suicide among young people in Japan. It is not. It’s a self-indulgent mess, ostensibly in tribute to its subject, Sota Masuda – a sort of Japanese Graham Parsons lookalike, without the talent, but with the substance abuse – who committed suicide during the shooting of the film. Somewhere underneath the utterly pretentious scenes of Ota draped in black, wearing a paper mache death mask, acting like judgmental Batman and an offhand misogyny is a moving story of a young man, Masuda, falling apart emotionally. The best Ota can get from it is a hackneyed conclusion of there being two kinds of suicidal personalities and an occluded personal anger that he must put on screen. I recommend a psychologist, Ota-san, rather than this sloppy self-therapy, which isn’t good for you, nor your audience.
Originally published in EL Magazine, September 2014.