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Bright Future
Bright Future
Actors: Tatsuya Fuji, Tadanobu Asano, Takashi Sasano, J Odagiri, Marumi Shiraishi
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2005     1hr 33min

Friends Mamoru and Yuji are aimless young men stuck in dead-end jobs in a dreary factory in Tokyo. Mamoru, the more antisocial of the two, is obsessed with his pet project of acclimating a poisonous jellyfish to fresh wat...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tatsuya Fuji, Tadanobu Asano, Takashi Sasano, J Odagiri, Marumi Shiraishi
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Palm Pictures / Umvd
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/08/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Here's what I think it's about (analysis and some spoilers)
Martin Wagner | Austin, TX United States | 06/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Many viewers look at Bright Future and throw up their hands in
confusion, even those who admire Kurosawa's style. I've thought a lot
about this movie and I don't think its intentions are that obscure,
though I confess it can be inaccessible. It's just that Kurosawa's
approach is VERY contrary to how Westerners understand film.

Bright Future examines the disillusionment of Japanese youth towards
their parents' generation, and, in turn, their parents' feelings of
failure towards their children. Throughout, a poisonous red jellyfish
symbolizes disaffected youth, drifting along silently, not threatening
unless you cross their path.

Namura and Arita are two 20-somethings working at an industrial
laundry. Namura is apathy itself. He cherishes his dreams of a "bright
future," but in his daily life, he barely registers much more than a
blank stare. He's such a loser he even sucks at his few hobbies; the
one time he goes out to an arcade with his upwardly-mobile sister and
her yuppie boyfriend, the boyfriend casually kicks Namura's ass at
games Namura plays constantly. On his lone trips to a nearby bowling
alley, Namura rolls mostly gutters.

Arita, Namura's only friend, is more mysterious, with a placid surface
underneath which lurks hints of menace. Arita's sole hobby is the care
of his pet jellyfish, which he is trying to acclimate to fresh water.

Arita gives the clueless Namura hand signals (thumb inward means
"wait," finger pointing means "go ahead") so he'll avoid doing anything
"crazy." Namura isn't sure what to make of this, but we get hints Arita
is more in tune with prevailing moods. "There's a storm coming," he
says ominously.

The boys' boss at the laundry lamely attempts to court their
friendship, borrowing a CD from Namura and popping up uninvited at
Arita's apartment. There he goes into a pathetic speech about "When I
was your age...", but loses his train of thought and gets caught up
watching cable. Namura and Arita view this middle-aged boy-man with
barely concealed contempt; you can tell they're thinking, "God, is this
what I have to look forward to when I'm 55?" When the boss sticks his
fingers in the jellyfish tank, Arita stops Namura from warning him
about the poison.

The boss, when he learns what could have happened, confronts Arita, who
quits his job the next day. The boss remains friendly to Namura,
throwing the socially inept young man into further confusion. That
night, Namura angrily goes to the boss's house to get his CD, only to
find Arita has been there earlier and murdered the man and his wife.

Arita is arrested but makes no particular attempt at a defense. In
jail, he cordially (but not warmly) greets his estranged father, and
only wants to talk about his jellyfish to Namura, in whom he has
entrusted its care. But when Namura, in a rare emotional outburst,
declares he will "wait 20 years" for Arita's release, Arita coldly
snubs him. Now even more bereft and confused, Namura angrily smashes
the jellyfish tank, inadvertently releasing it into the city canals.

Not long after, Arita hangs himself in his cell, his hand wired into
the "go ahead" signal. Namura regrets his rashness, and is overjoyed to
find the jellyfish still alive. He also strikes up a bond with Arita's
father, who makes a meager living salvaging discarded appliances (a
metaphor for pointlessly hanging onto the past). The father, who hadn't
seen Arita for 5 years before the murders, and who is held in such
disdain by his one other son that the boy has taken his mother's last
name, sees in Namura the chance for a real father-son relationship.

I've concluded that we're supposed to see Arita and Namura as two
different incarnations of the same person. This interpretation would be
consistent with Kurosawa's follow-up, Doppelgänger, whose hero
confronts an arrogant and violent duplicate of himself. Bright Future's
script hints that Kurosawa may have intended this:

At one point Namura says he thinks Arita killed the boss "before I
could do it"; indeed, right before Namura goes to the house, we see him
grab a metal pipe off the street and swing it in wild unfocused rage.
In another scene, we see Arita's ghost(?) watching his father and
Namura. Also, the way Arita's father cherishes his bond with Namura; a
reconciliation after an argument they have plays like the father is
really forgiving Arita and his other son for abandoning him (especially
the father's line "I forgive all of you for everything"). Finally,
Arita's rejection of Namura when Namura declares he'll wait for him in
prison; if Arita is really Namura's "evil doppelgänger," then the
rejection makes good thematic sense. It's Arita's way of saying, "You
idiot, don't you know that as long as you hang onto me, you'll always
be a loser?"

So is Arita the violent, acting-out side of Namura's personality made
flesh, who, once he commits the crime Namura fantasizes about, feels
it's time to give Namura the "go ahead" signal and bow out? An
intriguing possibility, and one certainly in keeping with Kurosawa's
magical realist approach.

The final scenes, in which Namura - saying "I got my go-ahead signal
long ago" - finally decides to stop drifting aimlessly (like the
jellyfish in the tank) and set himself towards the "bright future" he
used to dream of (like the loose jellyfish, now "escaping" from Tokyo
and drifting toward the sea), brings the movie's theme full circle. The
climactic shot of hordes of glowing jellyfish floating down a canal is
a truly stunning image. (And one thematically underscored by its
juxtaposition with the very last shot, of a gang of kids Namura briefly
falls in with, drifting aimlessly down the sidewalk to nowhere in
particular.) The title turns out to be not ironic at all. The young can
have a bright future, but sometimes, you have to know when to wait, and
when to go ahead."
Red Jellyfish and Brine Shrimp
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 09/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)


Working at a large laundry cleaning service, Nimura Yuji spends most of his days sorting through clothing and transferring loads of clothing from washers to dryers. While this is not the most mentally stimulating or satisfying work, Nimura is at least accompanied by his best friend Arita Mamoru during his days of drudgery. While his life might be quite dull Nimura is able to escape his humdrum world by entering the realm of dreams where the future is bright. However, in the waking world Nimura seems to be a bit at a loss. He gets into fight over the smallest things such as the pieces of fried chicken in his lunch box were a bit small and it seems that without the guidance of Mamoru Yuji would not be able to survive.

Content hanging out at Mamoru's apartment, where he likes to feed Mamoru's pet jellyfish, and listening to music, Nimura's isolated world is invaded when his boss, Mr. Fujiwara, begins to wedge his way into his life. It begins small. Mr. Fujiwara asks the two young men to help him move his daughter's new desk upstairs and asks them to stay afterwards for dinner, but soon he is asking the two young to become fulltime employees and offers them large bonuses. Not sure if they want to accept the bonuses and the fulltime employment, Mamoru and Nimura try to avoid Mr. Fujiwara, but the older man invites himself over to Mamoru's home where he makes himself at home by plopping in front of the TV. Nimura is quite upset at the intrusion, but it is Mamoru who upsets the boss by not warning him when he sticks his hand in the poisonous jellyfish's tank. When accused by his boss, Mamoru quits his job. Left alone at work, Nimura's hatred towards his boss grows until one night, gripping a steel pipe; he is determined to kill his boss. However, when he arrives at his boss's house he finds the bloody corpses of his boss and his boss's wife in their bedroom. Mamoru is soon arrested and put in prison. Although Nimura visits his friend in prison, he is soon left alone and the divide between his reality and his world of dreams soon begins to erode.

Bright Future is the first film that I have watched by Kurosawa Kiyoshi. A quiet work, filled with light, whimsical music, Bright Future is a visual delight, especially when the red jellyfish are on screen. Odagiri Jo, Nimura, and Asano Tadanobu, Mamoru, both do excellent jobs of acting and one can truly feel how much Odagiri's character depends on Asano's. However, my favorite bit of acting within the film was performed by Fuji Tatsuya, the actor who starred in Oshima Nagisa's Realm of the Senses. There is one scene that is truly heartbreaking when Fuji's character is searching for Nimura's. A good film overall, but one I believe needs repeated viewing in order to figure out its multifaceted nuances.
One of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's finest films
David Alston | Chapel Hill, NC, USA | 09/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Kiyoshi Kurosawa is becoming one of my favorite current filmmakers, and the further he gets from by-the-book J-horror (preferring to reach further into less categorizable reaches of his own cinematic imagination), the better I think he is.

Deeper meanings mingle with absurdist humor, and the kind of chance occurrences that enliven the fiction of Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami also figure heavily in Kurosawa's films; cinematically, everything from Lynch or Fellini to "Dirty Harry" can be a touchstone for further exploration.

BRIGHT FUTURE is like an improved CHARISMA - more refined, less loony, and considerably more poetic, but Kiyoshi Kurosawa's many thematic concerns - trashing of the environment, a sense of depersonalization (and discreet nihilism) in younger/future generations, the erosion of a society's cohesiveness (especially when that erosion originates within, and not from some external source) - are handled very well - the last shot offers his darkest and most ironic humor, with the cross-generational understanding becoming something quietly heroic evoking certain past masters of Japanese film. A sense that - if younger generations have drifted towards a nihilism that could destroy them or you, it is balanced by an equally withering take on the older generations that somehow let them down; this film in many ways visualizes the idea of getting over it, and moving on with life (after presenting some of the consequences for not doing so).

Tadanobu Asano's presence here is somewhat hyped (definitely on the DVD cover), undoubtedly due to his ascendant global stardom, but his performance here is eclipsed by co-stars Joe Odagiri and Tatsuya Fuji, who both deliver dynamic performances of great range and control.

Mysterious, poetic, beautifully shot (on DV), open to many interpretations, and one of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's finest.

-David Alston
A. Suzuki | Carbondale, Illinois United States | 02/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Kurosawa shows the inner struggle of young men and a conflict between the young and the old. This film reflects the modern Japanese society's revealed but not dealt problems. Symbolization and metaphors are poetic, cruel, and straightforward. It is worth watching to learn about the postmodern generation."