That’s It  それだけ Dir: Gakuryu Ishii (2015)

That’s It   

Soredake That's It Film Poster
Soredake That’s It Film Poster

それだけ 「Sore dake」

Release Date: May 27th, 2015

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Gakuryu Ishii

Writer: Kiyotaka Inagaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Shota Sometani, Erina Mizuno, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Jun Murakami, Gou Ayano,

Website   IMDB

Gakuryu Ishii loves punk music and this film was inspired by the 1999 song “Sore dake” by Japanese rock band Bloodthirsty Butchers. The rest of the band’s music is also featured in the film which was released on May 27, 2015, two years to the day the Bloodthirsty Butchers’ lead singer Hideki Yoshimura died. With lyrics and chords adding to the energy of the proceedings, this is a shot of urban punk action with echoes of films from director Gakuryu’s earlier career.

The story is a crime thriller with a genre twist thrown in but it essentially follows a homeless kid named Samao Daikoku (Shota Sometani). Ever since his abusive father sold his birth certificate to gangsters he has been trapped in an underground life where he faces the choice of either working for criminals or starving on the streets. Without those papers, he cannot be a proper citizen of Japan. He is not alone since others such as a prostitute named Ami Nanmu (Erina Mizuno) are exploited by gang bosses like the information-broker Daikichi Ebisu (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) and the pimp Inogami (Jun Murakami). Samao breaks into Daikichi’s coin locker to steal money but finds a hard drive worth millions of yen because it is packed with the birthright papers as well as all sorts of other personal information that can be used for money. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game with Ebisu to get the info back but an even bigger gangster named Senju (Gou Ayano) is interested in getting that info to cement his control on the city…

Shot partly in black and white and with riotous energy and lots of sequences where people run around screaming, this is a departure from Gakuryu’s two previous films, Isn’t Anyone Alive (2012) – which featured Shota Sometani and Jun Murakami – and Flower of Shanidar (2013) – which starred Gou Ayano. It’s style when it is at its most exuberant may reminds fans of the director’s more anarchic punk works which had pared down narratives, a cocky swagger, and boundless energy. The location of the film is Kobe and it seems to have been recorded in the summer such are the use of frames affected by heat haze from the asphalt. Apart from a few scenes by the coast, the city is the main stage as the characters race through warrens of streets, warehouses and more with quick cutting and a soundscape full of strange ambient noise, and guitar feedback from the soundtrack that floats in and out of scenes to give things an industrial edge when the punk-rock isn’t roaring along.

After a break in the middle which features a little too much talking, the second half of the film races into an enjoyable series of action scenes. Shot in colour and with an eye for making the characters look cool the film picks up in energy after that break and becomes enjoyable and even surprising in its narrative turns. The mixture of camera tricks in both halfs feature floating dolly shots and rapid pans, a POV camera for when the film turns into a shooting gallery and they are all stitched together by sharp editing that knows how to keep the pace up.

Much like the visuals of the film are balanced so are the characters. Performances are all good with Sometani’s character being compelling since he is driven by explosive moments of violence while Ami is a counterbalance as a character who is all love and peace. Kiyohiko Shibukawa almost steals the show with his character Ebisu being played as a Puckish figure prone to fits of violence and politeness and always with a grin on his face while other mobster, Inugami, as played by Jun Murakami is all louche and ennui. Gou Ayano plays Senju as a monster and doesn’t fall flat in the role. His is a hard role to gauge and I am still not sure what to make of his performance.

There is a lot of invention in this film but that is typical for Gakuryu Ishii who has spent most of his career flitting between experimentalism and more straight features as well as CMs and music videos. The film feels like an attempt to refocus himself and rediscover his punk soul after Isn’t Anyone Alive (2012) and Flower of Shanidar (2013). If you are familiar with his work it might be easy to think of it as one part the black-and-white Crazy Thunder Road (1980) and one part Electric Dragon 80000 V (2001) and nothing like Angel Dust (1994) or August in the Water (1995) which were packed with metaphors and beautifully composed static-shots. Whether you are a fan of his early or late stuff or totally new to him, this is a solid thriller with some great shots and mean style and it flies by quickly.

Here is more on the song Sore dake lyrics and video:

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