Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Speaking in Silence: Still Walking

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Still Walking” is gorgeous cinematic fabric, with a Eugene O’Neill worthy storyline consisting of intricately woven layers. Within the context of a family reunion to mourn the loss fifteen years earlier of an eldest son every character inhabits his own separate world within the same scene; while Kore-eda’s camera delights in remaining on images unrelated to the clan’s emotionally distanced words. Indeed, one actor will often address another who lingers out of frame. And the characters themselves are never as stock as they first seem. Depth is slowly revealed through the director’s nuanced dialogue, like the mesmerizing Toshiko Yokoyama’s sweet little old lady with vengeance in her heart or sister Chinami – played by 80s singer You who resembles a Japanese Cyndi Lauper – her pop tart attitude masking the sorrow of a daughter forever seeking the “I love you” just out of reach. “Even when they die people never really go away,” a newly remarried widow tells her son. The unseen characters, the dead, are just as “visible” as those living and breathing onscreen. Absence is palpable presence for Kore-eda. If any summer flick passes the art film “test” of speaking volumes with silence “Still Walking” is it.

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