Wednesday, October 21, 2009

[TIFF 2009 Review] Our Brief Eternity (World Premiere)

What Gives?

The premise of this independent film by Takuya Fukushima is interesting to say the least, because it is based on something quite contemporary, and that's how prevalent and widespread a pandemic virus can reach to infect mass populations, especially in dense cities like Tokyo. The virus is of course fiction, which sends its victims into a fainting spell, and when awakened, lose part of their long term memory permanently, especially that of whom they hold most dear. In some aspects this might resemble that of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, except that this is a case of being non-voluntary with its contraction.

We're first introduced to Teru (Kouta Kusano), a professional bum who spends the bulk of his time wandering the streets, or be found indoors drinking with his buddies, idling time away. He soon chances upon his ex flame Mio (Romi), who doesn't find him familiar. Undeterred, he continues to pursue and jog her memory, and in time, they're both reliving their romance all over again. Until the virus hits Teru at the film's mid-way point, and it's the building up of a relationship from the start in one full circle. It's almost like a tale of two similar halves, where what gets primarily done for Mio, gets mirrored the same for Teru when the virus hits him.

There are other subplots as well, such as a researcher who appears to dispense good advice, and the no-good friends of Teru who get a needless act in the way of the main narrative. What seemed more poignant though is how the problem laid not with the virus, but how one would feel in the aftermath of the infection, be it from the victim's point of view, or from the caregiver wishing for continued recognition, and the exasperation that comes from having to repeat the same set of steps for memory rejuvenation in reclaiming those precious, lost memories for that someone special.

What's also peculiar is how, besides lending itself as a plot element, the focus seemed to be on the macro-aspects of the virus effect on society and the world, such as terrorism. Inter-titles are used to explain in significant detail what the current state of affairs in this fictional world is, though I do not see any parallels that can be drawn from these faux pas incidents, other than how it reflects upon the state of the relationship between Teru and Mio.

It's art-house fare through and through, that has great potential in its premise, but somehow let down by the relatively weak story.

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