Suzaku | Chicago Reader

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Naomi Kawase's astonishing debut feature (1997) is so nuanced it makes an average Ozu film look downright flashy. Living in a somewhat remote rural area of Japan, the Tahara family are introduced at quiet moments of their lives: in the kitchen as they prepare dinner, in the dining room as they look out over the mountains, in the countryside on summer outings, along the paths that lead to work or school. When Kawase rejoins them 15 years later, little has changed on the surface, but they're part of a disappearing way of life, and the complex fabric of emotional links between them has begun to mutate. The camera's long, repeated trajectories follow the characters on their rounds, but now they meet only erratically, lingering or hurrying in the unpredictable rhythms of change. Even more haunting are the almost imperceptible camera movements inside the house, each space overlaid with slightly shifting points of reference that map the topography of memory. In Japanese with subtitles. 95 min.

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