Hirokazu Kore-eda's haunting, graceful Japanese film features a concentrated and powerfully reserved performance by Makiko Esumi as Yumiko, a young woman whose life is defined by the death and disappearance of her loved on... more »es. As a child, she witnessed her grandmother's walking away from her family; as an adult, she must face the fact that her husband has committed suicide. Impeccably lit and framed, this self-consciously classical first feature blends characteristics of two of the great Japanese masters: a sensitive portrait of a woman's suffering is reminiscent of Mikio Naruse and a serene, minimalist style is suggestive of Yasujiro Ozu. At times, Kore-eda seems to be trudging too dutifully in the path of his illustrious predecessors, and there is little in the film that could be qualified as original. Yet Maborosi remains convincing in its subtle, sustained moods and the quiet confidence of its approach. --Dave Kehr« less
If you love Japanese culture, you'll love this film
R. Wingate | Windermere, FL | 12/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maborosi (Maboroshi no Hikari) is a beautiful film. It's simply one of the best movies in my Japanese collection (which isn't small). Not that having lived for several years in the rural area where much of the movie is set biases my opinion.The imagery and music are wonderful. The story is contemplative and haunting. Esumi Makiko is beautiful. The acting is as natural as the Japanese countryside. Even after many viewings, this movie holds up -- I wish I could find more like this one."
Follow the Light
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 06/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If one is familiar with Kore-eda's later film _After Life_ one already knows that death and memory play key parts in his films. After creating stellar documentaries concerning such subjects as AIDS and what it is like for a Korean man passing himself off as Japanese for decades, Kore-eda created _Maborosi_ a film that takes a close look at the greif caused by losing a loved one.The film starts off by showing a young girl named Yumiko trying to convince her grandmother to return home, however, the grandmother is determined to return home to die. Yumiko is unable to prevent her grandmother from leaving and this weighs on her young mind. Warp twelve or so years later and Yumiko is married to her childhood friend Ikuo and is the mother of a three year old son. Yumiko and Ikuo are far from well off, they live in a very small apartment with incredibly thin walls, but they seem to be decently happy. Well, at least Yumiko seems happy. After her husband brings home his bike and leaves with an umbrella, the next thing we learn is that he was killed walking on the train tracks. A suspected suicide.Time passes and Yumiko's mother arranges her a marriage with a widower who lives in Kanazawa. Unlike her small apartment, Yumiko and her son move into a large old house with her new husband, his father, and his daughter. Ikuo gets along beautifully with his step-grandfather and step-sister and while it seems Yumiko likes her husband well enough, the shadow of Ikuo is always preasant.This is a gorgeous film. Kore-eda does a wonderful job depicting the living conditions of a lower working class family and goes on to show ramshackle, but lovely older homes by the sea. Yumiko's husband's home looks incredibly shabby on the outside, but the polished hardwood floors and traditional furniture are extraordinary. Kore-eda also pays close attention to nature by showing the natural beauty of the region."
Vermeer wanders along the japanese seashore
Timothy G. Lowly | Chicago, IL United States | 11/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is an amazing filmhaiku simpleimages framed long and slow like the esteemed dutch painter contemplating something darker than his typical subjectfew movies consider grief in such a profoundly and mysteriously moving waythankyou Hiokazu Kore-eda"
(mostly) Great movie, Bad Bad Bad transfer
xxxxxxxxx | timbuktu | 05/06/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is an all-time favorite of mine. I've seen it in the cinema close to ten times. The visual composition is extraordinary. Simple scenes like a bus coming into frame and around a corner--no plot, no action--are stunning and enthralling. The writing and acting are understated and powerful, finding the maximum expression with the minimum gesture. That said, the second half is too long. Even I get tired and have trouble keeping focus and this is supposed to be one of my favorites. References to Japanese culture may be slightly opaque, but actually it's really not hard to have some appreciation even without prior familiarity. For instance, a kettle on a flame in a household is a recurrent image. There may be some specific reference or message there, but I think it's sufficient to appreciate it as a sign of the warm interior of the household and the tea ready to serve to family or guests. Now, the reason for 3 stars only: The transfer is horrendous, abysmal, outrageous--this travesty demands retribution on whoever is responsible. Many reviewers refer to dark, indistinct images where characters can't even be recognized. The screen image is snowy throughout. Let me assure you that this never occurs in a decent print of the film, and to issue this transfer is a crime."
Excellent movie! Poor transfer.
PeerGynt | S. Utah | 11/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm very enthusiastic about this movie (see my earlier review), however it should be noted that the quality of the print is extremely poor. The movie was transferred to tape and subtitled for release in the U.S. and unfortunately the DVD was taken from this low quality tape transfer rather than being printed from the film. If a better print were released in the U.S. I'd rush to buy it. How about it Criterion Collection?"