Tuesday, October 20, 2009

[TIFF 2009 Review] Go Find a Psychic! (曲がれ!スプーン) (World Premiere)

I Can Do It!

Admit it, at some point in our lives we would have wondered what it'll be like if we were to suddenly possess some extraordinary powers, or when watching how some could bend spoons using ESP, tried to do so ourselves by willing it. Or call upon some predictive cognitive powers to buy into some lucky lottery numbers. Of course most of us are unsuccessful at this, otherwise we'll be looking at a major leap in our evolution already.

Go Find a Psychic! is essentially the story of one such believer in ESPs, psychics and the likes, having to witness a meteor fall smack into the ocean, and from then on stirred her interest and curiosity into things unexplained, from UFOs to the ability to bend spoons especially. Masami Nagasawa plays Yone Sakurai, a girl who grows up under such circumstances, only to find herself working at a television station whose programme "Are You a Psychic?" has so far garnered no success in getting real psychics to demonstrate their powers during the show, but had instead attracted plenty of bogus scams all out for their 5 minutes of fame. Desperate, she gets sent on a personal crusade to weed out the wheat from the chaff, which interests her because of the potential in getting to find out, and know about the real deal.

Based on a stage play, the film is predominantly set inside a cafe in the Kagawa Prefecture which the owner had called "Cafe Kinesis", in an effort to gather psychics to a common ground where they can befriend one another, exchange notes and basically let loose their powers away from prying eyes. Think of it as Professor Charles Xavier's humble abode for the X-Men, and you get the drift on what this cafe is used for. Not before long we're introduced to the characters with psychic abilities, such as Ide (Junya Kawashima) who can control electronics, Kawaoka (Masashi Suwa) who can manipulate matter to a certain degree, Kakei (Haruki Nakagawa) with X-Ray eyes, Shiina (Osamu Tsuji) with telepathic powers through touch, and Koyama (Hiroki Miyake) with the ability to stop time for 5 seconds.

Not too powerful abilities you may add, but this group piles on the laughter with their earnest ways, and down to earth characters. They do have a code of conduct which they religiously enforce, and one thing's for sure it's never to flout their powers in front of non-psychics, lest they be treated as test lab subjects. The bulk of the film centers in one Christmas Eve, where Kanda (Hideto Iwai) gatecrashes into the jolly party, and mistakenly got passed off as a new psychic recruit. Without powers, he is in awe at what he had witnessed, and the group now had to fight fire and Kanda's intent to make them public, since this empty vessel has the potential, and has shown, to be making the most noise.

As Kanda had used Cafe Kinesis as a meeting point with Yone to audition for her show, the group finds themselves in more trouble and comedy ensues in their attempts to keep their abilities under wraps, while making Kanda their punching bag as punishment for his intent. A subplot proved to be useful here as it put the group into a dilemma on how to use their abilities to save a life, but yet had to continue to keep them shielded from the unwanted limelight. As the film progressed it became more touching as it dealt with how sad it must be when one is to witness your personal beliefs being ridiculed and so far been proven to be nothing but shams, and the last act will likely bring a tear to your eye, being set in a season of goodwill amongst man.

This delightful comedy directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro works precisely because of the excellent chemistry amongst all the cast involved, turning in fine performances and great comic timing in delivering what would probably be potential for mass mainstream success.

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