Until Rainbow Dawn

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Until Rainbow Dawn
"Despite its narrative issues, this film has some well structured dialogue and a touching relationship at its centre."

"There's someone else I like," explains Hana, breaking up with her boyfriend.

It would be a bold decision in any circumstances because Hana is deaf and, as such, part of a small, insular community where gossip is rife and opportunities limited. Her parents think she's done pretty well to find a nice young man with a good job. But Hana has fallen for a nice young woman. When her parents hear this, they turn her out of the house.

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Hana's girlfriend Ayumi is also deaf but is much more confident about her place in the world. She hasn't been through the same segregated education system and seems much more connected to wider society. A single scene here involving street harassment serves, however, to show viewers how challenging dealing with hearing people can be and explain the desirability of safe, deaf-only spaces. The problem is, being deaf and LGBT means the two have even fewer social options. When Ayumi takes Hana to a bar where they've heard that deaf LGBT people gather, the latter is at such a low point that she hesitates to trust anyone. The film explores the way that experiencing prejudice can lead people to isolate themselves even in situations where they might well be accepted.

Although attitudes in Japan are rapidly changing, traditionally impairments have been viewed as the consequence of doing something bad in a past life, giving deaf people low social status. Homophobia is a more recent prejudice, imported from the West as in many other countries, and gradual improvements in civil rights in recent years have yet to be matched by widespread cultural acceptance. Until Rainbow Dawn feels quite artificial in places, especially when it takes time out for a group of gay and trans people to tell their stories, but this has to understood in context. It's speaking to a primary audience which may need these introductions to basic ideas, and it's speaking for a community that is urgently trying to carve out space.

Despite its narrative issues, this film has some well structured dialogue and a touching relationship at its centre, with both leads performing well in their limited roles. It's a rare glimpse into the lives of people living at the junction of two difficult roads, and will mean a great deal to viewers in a similar position.

Reviewed on: 09 Dec 2018
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After meeting at their Deaf school in Central Japan, Hana and Ayumi become close friends, and quickly fall in love. But when Hana comes out to her parents, they throw her out of the house

Director: Mika Imai

Year: 2018

Runtime: 63 minutes

Country: Japan

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Dawn Of The Deaf