This film from 2007 is about a woman who has lost a child and who works in a care home for the elderly. One of the people there is senile, and still talks about his late wife as if she were still alive. One day, when out running errands, the car they’re in crashes and he runs off into a forest, with her following after him. This journey through the dark forest is an allegory for mourning and finding closure after the death of a loved on.
But if I put my cynical hat on, the film ticks a number of boxes for award-winners, but at its heart, it is a fairly shallow film. It’s beautifully filmed, full of lingering shots over the perfectly manicured farms and dark, ominous forests. The acting is great (Ono Machiko is superb, as usual), and the first half of the film, with its use of non-actors, has a real documentary feel to it.
The trouble is that because the main character was senile, it meant the story could progress as the film-maker wanted without any real reason. If the story needed a change in scene, he could just run off by himself. Need him to cross a river? No need to explain. It all seemed very convenient.
I feel bad about criticising a film that is made with such care and style but it felt a lot like a very nicely filmed acting workshop.