Sunday, September 16, 2007

[Japanese Film Festival] Inochi (命)

Happy Family

The Japanese/Mandarin title of Inochi reads "Life", and the movie is about the circle of life from birth to death. It's quite an unconventional love story based on the book by writer Yu Miri, and Inochi is based on her experiences, though the themes presented are nothing short of universal.

It's a complex relationship between Miri and playwright Higashi Yukata. For starters, they once dated, but are no longer a couple. Next, Miri is pregnant, but the child belongs to a married man, with whom she decides to end the relationship with. In a desperate need for help and advice, she turns to Higashi her ex lover, and together, they embark on a journey of life, with the coming of her child, while anticipating the grim reaper, when Higashi is discovered to be in the late stages of cancer.

I can identify with the cadaver attitude that Higashi has toward death, especially when you're young and have the feeling of invulnerability. Death always seem so far away, but alas his decadent lifestyle turns to be disastrous. One sometimes have lofty ideals about facing death, but ultimately it's the adage that when we don't cry when we don't see the coffin, holding true.

A somewhat powerful love story of missed opportunities and what ifs, and the fact that life should be cherished versus carelessly throwing it all away. This is something that Miri learns when she decides to keep the baby, and probably on hindsight no regrets in doing so, and for Higashi, lamenting that he no longer has good health to care for someone else, and reminisce the fact that there is so much sacrificed and experiences that he will no longer be a part of or feel for.

Inochi has a stark balance between issues of life and death, doom and gloom, but somehow in its darkness, there's always a sliver of hope running through it. I at least started to root for the good things, for that miracle you sometimes read about when someone beats the odds against terminal stage cancer. There's no silver bullet, but an array of positive experiences and drugs that somehow might prove to be the winning combination. Director Tetsuo Shinohara managed to find that delicate balance, while at the same time not stifling the narrative, finding ample room to insert the brief, but highly effective backstory during when Miri and Higashi were a couple.

Beautifully shot and recommended for romantics. And that cute baby smiling, worked a lot of wonders too.

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