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HomeReview‘Rei’: Rotterdam Review

‘Rei’: Rotterdam Review

Dir/scr: Toshihiko Tanaka. Japan. 2024. 189mins

This formidable function debut from author/director/producer/editor/lead actor Toshihiko Tanaka takes a thirtysomething Tokyo girl, Hikari (Takara Suzuki), because the protagonist, hyperlink and catalyst in a sequence of distinct however overlapping dramas. Hikari’s rising emotional reference to deaf panorama photographer Masato (Toshihiko Tanaka) is the central strand on this intricate, engrossing piece of storytelling that touches upon common themes of human connection, and Japanese attitudes in direction of incapacity. It’s this latter ingredient – there are just a few moments that really feel reasonably retrogressive of their strategy to disabled characters – together with the movie’s over-generous operating time, that may show to be a problem for worldwide distributor.

An intricate, engrossing piece of storytelling

Nonetheless, there isn’t a query that Tanaka is a notable expertise to look at going ahead, as is the magnetic Takara Suzuki and cinematographer Akio Ikeda (who additionally co-produced and takes a supporting position within the movie as Masato’s protecting buddy, Shinya). Having received the highest prize in Rotterdam’s Tiger Competitors, Rei ought to obtain additional curiosity on the competition circuit.

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Hikari’s friendship with Masato runs alongside a number of different storylines. Tensions within the marriage of Hikari’s shut buddy Asami (Maeko Oyama) are constructing following the revelation that their three-year-old daughter is developmentally disabled. Asami’s husband is conducting an affair with a nurse who, coincidentally, cared for Masato’s dying mom. In the meantime, Hikari is juggling an on-off flirtation with an older theatre actor, Mitsuru (Keita Katsumata).

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The importance of the movie’s title is defined in a pre-film mini-lecture. Rei is a kanji character (an ideogram in written Japanese) that holds little significance by itself however, when linked to different characters, “beneficial properties that means for the primary time”. It’s an allegory that may be learn in a number of methods – probably the most beneficiant is that it is just via our openness to the world and folks round us that we turn into entire as people. The much less charitable one is that Hikari – a classy workplace employee with a eager curiosity in avant-garde unbiased theatre productions and no main issues in her life – is destined to be unfulfilled so long as she stays alone.

It’s true that there’s a sure drama lacking from her life, which is probably why she is drawn to the theatre. It’s via a play, titled ’Nestling Bushes’, that Hikari first meets actor Mitsuru, who invitations her to the post-show drinks with the remainder of the solid to regale her together with his theories on efficiency. And it’s via the art work used on the manufacturing flyer that she first encounters the work of Masato, whose {photograph} of two ice-crusted bushes in a snowy panorama catches her creativeness. On a whim, she contacts him, asking whether or not he would take her portrait. And Masato, who lives distant from the remainder of the world within the mountains of Hokkaido – however who’s, by probability, in Tokyo for his mom’s funeral – consents to fulfill her.

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They convey via gestures and written notes – Masato by no means discovered signal language however can specific himself eloquently via SMS and e-mail. However most of all, they be taught from one another’s means of trying on the world. Though Masato’s reactions to conditions may be socially unorthodox, he sees issues that others don’t. When Asami, impressed by the portraits of Hikari, commissions him to take photos of her household, Masato’s photographer’s eye picks up on the unbalance within the household unit, the way in which that Asami’s husband is already pulling away from his spouse and baby.

However regardless of the perception that Masato exhibits, there’s a sense that, as a personality, he’s each outlined and restricted by his deafness. His finest buddy describes him as “fragile” and warns Hikari away from him. Within the last act, Masato breaks down dramatically and expresses the want to by no means have been born. It’s a troubling character arc: whereas not deliberately ableist, it does subscribe to the unlucky assumption {that a} bodily incapacity inevitably equates with private and social incapacity.

Manufacturing firm: No Saint & Bloom

Worldwide gross sales: Geta movies inquiry@getafilms.com

Producers: Toshihiko Tanaka, Akio Ikeda

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Cinematography: Akio Ikeda

Modifying: Toshihiko Tanaka

Music: Kehei sis Noda

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Essential solid: Takara Suzuki, Maeko Oyama, Toshihiko Tanaka, Shogo Moriyama, Akio Ikeda, Keita Katsumata, Mayu Tano, Hana Kanno, Ryuji Uchida, Mayumi Tsukiyama

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