Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Before the Japanese took up golf and baseball and pretended to like all things American, they were secretive and inscrutable.

Writer/director Takeshi Kitano returns to the tradition of the bunraku doll theatre, where tragedy is expressed in silence, leaving the audience to make sense of it, or not.

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A young man with long hair dumps his girlfriend to marry the boss's daughter. On the morning of his wedding he hears that his true love has attempted suicide. She did not die, but her brain is permanently damaged. The young man deserts his bride-to-be to spend the rest of his life wandering the country with a girl who does not recognise him. To stop her escaping, he ties a red silk rope around her waist and they walk this way, slowly, without speaking, through beautiful landscapes.

This unremitting tale of guilt and retribution is intercut with another and another. An old man, who may or may not be a gangster, discovers a woman on a park bench who has been waiting 40 years for her boyfriend to share a picnic lunch with her. That boyfriend was him, once. In the other story, a pop singer has a car accident. As a result, she is blinded in one eye and won't allow her adoring public to see her disfigured face. An older man mutilates himself in order to get close to her.

There is no apparent connection between the separate stories, except, at some point, a man makes a decision that deeply affects a woman, although in the pop star's case this is not quite true.

As with art, it is better not to attempt an understanding. Let the imagery flow through the channels of your mind. The bunraku puppeteers are always visible and yet do not distract from the action of their dolls. Kitano allows incomprehension to feed the intellect.

Confusion has many avenues.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2003
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Three separate stories of love lost in the beautiful landscapes of Japan.
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Director: Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano

Starring: Miho Kanno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tatsuya Mihashi, Chieko Matsubara, Kyoko Fukada, Tsutomu Takeshige

Year: 2002

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Japan


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