Rebecca Paul reports on the Japanese film festival currently touring the UK and reviews one of its entries: About Her Brother.
The oddly named, Whose Film is it Anyway, showcases narrative creativity through expressive direction in contemporary Japanese film. The touring festival aims to showcase methods of storytelling and narrative from a variety of little-known directors.
One of the seven films, Yoji Yamada’s About Her Brother, is a story of sibling relationships and family obligations. Ginko is growing increasingly frustrated with her younger brother, aspiring actor Tetsuro, whose alcohol-fuelled behaviour at her daughter’s wedding causes embarrassment and forces her to question her relationship with him.
About Her Brother is not a large-scale cinematic experience, but it is a touching one. The plot moves at its own pace and each character is well-explored through their relationship with one another. The direction is simple but effective as we are effortlessly guided through the Ginko’s struggle to sever ties with her brother and wrestle her guilty conscience when he becomes sick.
The story is initially narrated by Ginko’s daughter and the audience quickly becomes the voyeur as private family moments feel overheard rather than openly shared. At times we could be the awkward friend sitting at the kitchen table, witnessing Tetsuro’s misfit behaviour as his family stare in horror and embarrassment. We look on sympathetically as he drunkenly brawls and the camera drifts to an inscrutable Ginko who tries to retain her composure for the sake of her daughter.
About Her Brother encourages us to hold a mirror up to our own familial relationships, addressing difficult questions about love, obligation and loneliness as well as our own attitudes to one another and the choices we make.
Whose Film is it Anyway is an unusual and interesting premise for a film festival as we so often focus on subject as opposed to creative direction and storytelling.
Following its Edinburgh stint at the Filmhouse, the festival will move through to Glasgow’s Film Theatre until March 27th and then on to London.