in the only Jurassic Park that
matters, the pleisiosaur finally gets its big screen close-up, courtesy of the
other Kurosawa. Initially, it is only a
metaphor, but it becomes significantly meaningful and pressing to the young
lovers in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Real (trailer here), which screens tonight
at the 51st New York Film Festival.
Koichi Fujita and Atsumi Kazu look like the ideal couple. Kazu seems perfectly sweet, but the comic artist
specializes in grisly serial killer mangas.
Unfortunately, while suffering a persistent case of writers block, Kazu
tried to take her own life, falling into a coma instead. Hoping to assist her recovery, Fujita has
agreed to a new procedure known as “sensing,” by which he will enter her
Fujita gently probes the circumstances surrounding her attempted suicide, he
can encourage her conscious mind to re-awaken.
The early sessions go relatively well, but Fujita is increasingly
alarmed by the residual phantom images intruding on his reality as a result of
the sensing. He also carries back a
concrete mission to perform in the real world.
Kazu yearns to see the pleisiosaur drawing she gave him while they were both
children living on the provincial island of Hikone.
Kurosawa’s title suggests, there will be many questions about the nature of
reality throughout Real. However, every twist and revelation serves to
advance the story (adapted from Rokuro Inui’s novel), so they never feel cheap
or forced. While perhaps less of a
departure for the horror auteur than his previous outing, the dark family drama
Tokyo Sonata, Real is best considered in the tradition of Richard Matheson writing
in his What Dreams May Come and Somewhere in Time bag. In fact, what is most striking about Real is how deeply Fujita and Kazu feel
about each other while being so reserved in the manner they express it.
Takeru Sato’s work could be uncharitably categorized as a bit stiff or awkward,
but to be fair, Fujita is supposed to be a step slow in the intuition
department. On the other hand, Haruka
Ayase’s performance as Kazu is acutely sensitive. In fact, she handles her game-changing pivot with
considerable grace. It is also a bit
surprising to see a major star like Miki Nakatani (truly mesmerizing in Memories of Matsuko) in the comparatively
straight forward supporting role of Dr. Eiko Aihara, but she makes the most of
is a text book example of how special effects can
and should be subservient to story and character development. There is plenty of head-tripping and
reality-bending, but it is the love story drives the film. Nicely supported by Kei Haneoka’s elegant
musical themes, Real is far more
accessible for general audiences than most of Kurosawa’s films. Highly recommended, it screens tonight (10/7)
at Alice Tully Hall as a main slate selection of the 2013 NYFF.
Labels: Japanese Cinema, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Miki Nakatani, NYFF '13