暮らしの残像 「Kurashi no Zanzo」
Release Date: 2022
Duration: 16 mins.
Director: Kahori Higashi
Writer: Kahori Higashi (Screenplay),
Starring: Toma Hirose, Yukimi Soma, Rin Oka, Shinoka Mashima, Tiffany Fujimoto,
In a case of the English title being a better fit for the film, Kahori Higashi’s short film The Residents hides a powerful twist that the Japanese title gives away. What initially starts as a simple comedy of manners drawn from a deluge of quirky characters in one location turns out to be something more as viewers get to know more about the titular residents.
What do you get when you stick housewife, a flautist, a hostess, two lovers, and an aspiring actor in a cramped apartment on a sticky hot summer’s day? While this sounds like the set-up for a convoluted joke, it is the beginnings of a melancholy tale.
Initially, the set-up is executed like a home invasion with a comedic twist as the aforementioned characters, and a heap more, overwhelm the cluttered interior of an apartment in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward. However, the story gradually gains more depth as it coalesces around one particular character, a job seeker named Kotaro (Toma Hirose) who is searching for his application and profile photo. We learn more about him as the characters root through his belongings, picking out various aspects of his recent history and ties outside of the apartment, before using his utensils for a sukiyaki party. As he tries to martial the chaos going on, the twist occurs (the same one spoiled by the Japanese title) revealing failed ambitions and the connection each of the residents has to this apartment.
It appears that the film utilises the four-part Japanese narrative structure of “Ki-sho-ten-ketsu” — the introduction of an apartment and its residents, the development of the situation through thick and fast comedy, the twist of the revelation that puts everything in context, and the conclusion as we revel in the understanding of events. It is all masterfully executed by Higashi and her cast and crew in 16 minutes. They work with a set that feels lived in, they create characters that are memorable thanks to a strong ensemble of performers, however briefly on screen they are, who work together to build a web of understanding in the story through their various interactions, and direction that keeps our attention rooted on important details. This film shows that Higashi has great storytelling abilities!