One Night  ひとよ Dir: Kazuya Shiraishi (2019)

One Night    One Night Film Poster

ひとよ  Hitoyo

Release Date: November 08th, 2019

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay), Yuko Kuwabara (Original Stage Play)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Ryohei Suzuki, Mayu Matsuoka, Yuko Tanaka, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Mariko Tsutsumi, Hanae Kan, Megumi,

Website IMDB

Director Kazuya Shiraishi chronicles the darker aspects of Japan with true-crime stories featuring outlaws like The Devil’s Path (2013) and Twisted Justice (2016) mixed with depictions of damaged everyday people on the outermost fringes of society like Dawn of the Felines (2017) and Birds Without Names (2018). For One Night, his first family drama, he adapts a stage play by Yuko Kuwabara but leans too far into crime territory late in the proceedings for an unsatisfactory ending.

The film opens on a stormy night at the Inamoto Taxi company which is located in some nondescript town. Koharu Inamoto (Yuko Tanaka) runs over her abusive husband in a taxi in an act to free herself and her three children from his merciless violence. After confessing what happened to her kids, all of whom bear the bruises of a beating, Koharu tells them, “Nobody will ever beat you again. You can live however you want.” Just before departing into the rain and darkness to give herself up to the police, she promises she will meet them again in the future.

Cut to 15 years later and we see that Koharu’s selfless act that was supposed to set her family free to pursue their dreams has trapped them in a vicious circle of shame and self-loathing that has made their lives nightmarish. Koharu discovers this bitter disappointment as she keeps her promise and returns to her children and the family business. Her presence forces everyone to confront the scars from their traumatic background, how the kids have inherited the sins of the mother by living in shame, and how this has all warped their personalities in various ways. These differences lead to multiple angles of conflict between characters we sympathise with due to their shared history and that provides ample drama which is excellently delivered by the cast.

Displaying various degrees of emotional damage and toxic masculinity are Koharu’s boys. Eldest son Daiki is a nebbish-looking guy who is struggling badly with a failing marriage and meeting masculine norms. The slicker younger son Yuji is a cynical journalist for a sleazy tabloid who senses he can turn his tragic past into a brighter future through writing about it, even if this betrays his family. Screen heartthrob Takeru Satoh plays the more showy character of Yuji with provoking sneers and condescension fit for his character. More conventional but really harrowing is the plight faced by Daiki. Ryohei Suzuki is very sympathetic playing the bespectacled guy unable to process what happened to them. He is all huddled and quiet with a downcast gaze and stutter due to a lack of confidence and a lot of shame. His constant avoidance of conflict leads to a shock later in the story as he he slips into violence in a way that reminds audiences that children learn from their parents.

More welcoming is Koharu’s daughter Sonoko played by Mayu Matsuoka, a much-needed ray of sunshine whose bright personality and hard-knock smile lights up the dark narrative. Having been forced to give up her ambitions to be a hairstylist, she works at a snack bar where she belts out karaoke tunes with glee and has a cynical view of men that she is unafraid to show. This motivates her to push back against her brother’s wayward feelings towards their mother.

Veteran actress Yuko Tanaka plays Koharu as a woman with mighty resolve and a humane nature who is resigned to enduring whatever hardship she faces for the good of her children. Naturally the audience will be with her and there is the expectation that she will right whatever wrongs that are going on, from saving Daiki’s marriage to coming to peace with with Yuji. Except it doesn’t quite work out so simply and seeing the family members navigate their sense of betrayal and try to overcome their traumas provides gripping material that the performances keep us invested in. Throw in an examination of how society ostracises those connected to crime, other characters around them struggling with issues like senile parents and wayward children and there is enough material here for a fine family drama that depicts the problems faced by modern families.

While the pieces are all there, the story loses its thread in the final third as if the writer Izumi Takahashi lacked an interest in realistically evolving the story and bringing the characters to a natural catharsis. Instead, a subplot involving Michio Doushita (Kuranosuke Sasaki) as a taxi driver whose criminal past catches up with him drives the action. While his plight makes an interesting parallel to Koharu’s, his story hijacks the film and takes away any agency from the mother and it leads to a contrived ending which foists an unbelievable connection between himself and the children, whom we never really see interact with him, just for the sake of a resolution.

One Night really starts off as a deep, dark, and very difficult performance-driven drama as we watch an excruciating reunion ripe for theatrics but everything is kept in check as the cast deliver some very fine and realistic portrayals showing the ways domestic violence can affect people. With a better ending, the emotional of sticking it out rewards would have been greater.

The technicals are all impressive enough and help transcend the film’s stage origins by taking advantage of the taxi company to get out of the single location so it never feels boring and there is a sense of place and time so that this feels rooted in reality.

My review for One Night first appeared on VCinema on September 01st.

Rurouni Kenshin, Dear, Ai Ore! Love Me! Ushijima the Loan Shark, After School Midnighters, Anata E Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Hyouka Chitanda RushI replied to Andina’s Liebster blog award, reviewed the awesome Korean thriller Desire to Kill, dug into the Japanese films and TV (Kiyoshi Kurosawa is there with his latest TV show!) at the Venice International Film Festival and posted a trailer for the 2013 film entry in the A Certain Magical Index franchise. Scotland Loves Anime announced their line-up and I will post about that tomorrow. Alua has a nice round-up. Just as I wrote that Strange Circus and Eureka were delivered by the postal service \o/.

What do the Japanese movie box office charts look like?

  1. The Avengers
  2. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts
  3. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  4. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
  5. Pokemon: Best Wishes 2012
  6. Total Recall (2012)
  7. Kamen Rider Fourze the Movie: Everyone, Space is Here!
  8. The Dark Knight Rises
  9. Fairy Tail: The Phoenix Priestess
  10. Eight Ranger
  11. Helter Skelter

 

Last week saw the release of Marvel’s The Avengers so there was only one Japanese film released last week. The dust has settled and The Avengers movie is at the top of the charts while Fairy Tail lies at nine. Umizaru and Wolf Children drop one place each to two and three respectively. Helter Skelter, Another and The Kirishima Thing – Erika Sawajiri and Ai Hashimoto!!! – remain in the top fifteen.

This week sees a flood of Japanese films released and all but one of them are based on manga.

 

Rurouni Kenshin                                              るろうに剣心 Poster

Romaji: Rurouni Kenshin

Japanese Title: るろうに剣心

Release Date: 25th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Keishi Ohtomo

Writer: Watsuki Nobuhrio

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Taketo Tanaka, Munetaka Aoki, Yu Aoi, Yosuke Eguchi, Koji Kikkawa, Teruyuki Kagawa

The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s classic chanbara manga Rurouni Kenshin is released today. The film stars Takeru Sato (BECK, Kamen Rider Den-O) as the titular samurai with Emi Takei (Ai to Makoto) playing Kaoru, Yu Aoi (Memories of Matsuko, Honey and Clover), and Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata, Sukiyaki Western Django). The film is directed by Keishi Ōtomo who directed a popular NHK historical television series named Ryomaden which featured Takeru Sato.


The early Meiji period in Japan is a time of rapid industrialisation and modernisation and a time when samurai like Kenshin Himura are being consigned to the history books. He was once an elite swordsman known as “Battosai” before taking an oath not to kill. He now finds himself as a wandering samurai offering aid to those in need as atonement for his past actions. During his travels he meets Kaoru Kamiya, an instructor at her father’s Kendo school. She offers Kenshin a place to stay at her dojo and their relationship begins to blossom but Kenshin’s past will soon catch up with him as he discovers that somebody has been using the name “Battosai” while committing murders in Tokyo.

 

Dear                                                                 Anata e Film Poster

Romaji: Anata e

Japanese Title: あなた へ

Release Date: 25th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yasuo Furuhata

Writer: Seichi Ichiko, Takeshi Aoshima, Yasuo Furuhata

Starring: Ken Takakura, Yuko Tanaka, Koichi Sato, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kimiko Yo, Haruka Ayase, Takahiro Miura, Tadanobu Asano, Takeshi Kitano, Mieko Harada

I can feel the emotion from this trailer. I’m getting a Okuribito feel from this film. It stars Yuko Tanaka (the voice of Lady Eboshi in Princess Mononoke), Koichi Sato (Starfish Hotel, Sukiyaki Western Django, Infection), Kimiko Yo (Villain, Ace Attorney), Haruka Ayase (Ichi, Cyborg She), Tadanobu Asano (Kids Return, Survive Style 5+, Bright Future, Vital, Last Life in the Universe), and Takeshi Kitano (Kikujiro, Boiling Point, Fireworks).

Eiji Shimakura (Takakura) is a 53-year-old prison guard in Hokuriku. When he loses his wife Yoko (Tanaka) he receives a letter from her and follows her last wishes, which is to have her ashes spread in the sea next to her home town of Nagasaki. He is curious as to the reason why she wants her ashes taken there and decides to go Nagasaki n his homemade camper van.

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