a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Posts Tagged ‘Tadanobu Asano

Journey to the Shore / Kishibe no Tabi / 岸辺の旅

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Journey_to_the_Shore-p1Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Journey to the Shore starts off with an interesting premise. Mizuki (Eri Fukatsu), three-years widowed and still grieving, gets an unexpected visit from her dead husband, Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano). He promises to take her on a journey to the “beautiful places” he’s been on the long road back from where he died to her. The idea of not only the living reconciling with loss, but the dead themselves as active participants in reconciling with the afterlife is rife with possibility. Too bad Kurosawa sinks the whole thing in maudlin sentimentality, Ozu-esque two-shots that evoke parody, a maudlin and overbearing soundtrack and a general lack of urgency and direction in this overlong exercise in pop mysticism. Fukatsu, a genuinely fine actress, gets little to work with here and Asano’s perpetual blank slate helps him drift through, but Kurosawa’s muddled direction of a meandering and pandering script make this slog a challenge to get through. And these “beautiful places” that Yusuke takes his wife to may only be beautiful in the eyes of the director.

Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2015.

Written by Nicholas Vroman

December 8, 2015 at 6:56 am

Yoi ga Sametara Uchi ni Kaerou / 酔いがさめたら、うちに帰ろう / Wandering Home

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Tadanobu Asano does his best in this story of alcoholism and recovery, but with a flimsy script and general misdirection he doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Ray Milland or Jack Lemmon. Based on the autobiographical story of Yukata Kamoshida, director Yoichi Higashi seems to pull any and all punches in regard to the human suffering that lies in the wake of the drink. Instead, there’s a long and ill-paced section highlighting the strange foibles and colorful characters inhabiting the alcoholics’ ward. The scenes leading to Kamoshida’s fall are full of signifiers, but little of great heft. His domestic violence comes off as a dull joke. His increasing decrepitude doesn’t show in Asano’s face or body. And of course, there’s the mandatory sentimental ending. Asano remains a likeable screen presence, but even that amiability is stretched by the cliché of undying support by his ex-wife, manga artist Reiko Saibara (Hiromi Nagasuka). The image of the ever faithful and abused Japanese spouse, even if based on reality in this case, refuses to wither away.

Originally published in EL Magazine, December 2010