愛のゆくえ「Ai no Yukue」
Release Date: 2023
Duration: 88 mins.
Director: Fuka Miyajima
Writer: Fuka Miyajima (Screenplay),
Starring: Itsuki Nagasawa, Airu Kubozuka, Mari Hayashida, Katsumi Hyodo, Atsuko Hirata, Keisuke Horibe, Rena Tanaka,
Where Love Goes is a tale of love. It seems to be named after the main character but also captures how the emotion imbues people with an unshakeable inner power and how it draws them to safety. It is a striking debut. Well shot, affecting, visually distinctive. It may feature familiar characters and tropes but first-time feature film director Fuka Miyajima evades conventionality through a touch of magical realism.
We are taken to a snowbound town in Hokkaido (Fuka Miyajima’s home island) and into the cosy house of two junior high schoolers, shy silent Ai Sudo (Itsuki Nagasawa) and angry Sosuke Ito (Airu Kubozuka). They are not blood relatives but live together as a patchwork family cared for with great compassion for by Ai’s mother, Yumi (Mari Hayashida). Yumi’s love takes the form of constancy in cooking curries and caring for others first despite her own ill health. This provides a warm safe space for her kids who are enduring tormenting feelings of self-doubt, bullying in school, and the harsh snowy environment just outside their doorstep. Then Yumi dies and Ai is taken to Tokyo by her neglectful father while Sosuke is left behind, lost in confusion and fury. This is the start of Ai’s odyssey as she finds herself drawn back to her old home, Sosuke, and a new self-understanding.
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