Film Review: Kakera: A Piece of Our Life (2009) by Momoko Ando

The sensation of being trapped, like love, is aware of no gender. Japanese director Momoko Ando explores this complexity by interspersing sudden shows of magical realism with a curious studying of romance and sexuality in her directorial debut “Kakera – A Piece of Our Life,” an official entry to the Raindance and Stockholm worldwide movie festivals in 2009. 

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“Kakera” is predicated on the manga “Love Vibes” by Erika Sakurazawa. It focuses on Haru, a university pupil caught in an an affair with a person who dominates all features of their relationship. The monotony of their association will get damaged when she meets Riko, a bisexual prosthetist whose blunt strategy at life and love offers Haru a gap to go away her boyfriend and their cycle of toxicity. 

Haru and Riko are one another’s opposites, each within the inside and the surface. Whereas Riko dons herself in grays and browns, Riko is garbed in attires of colours and patterns. Haru is reticent whereas Riko is assertive. Riko declares who she is and her sexuality to the world with nary a care, whereas Haru is at all times on the precipice. She hems and haws, however the vacillation is clear not simply on the subject of getting into right into a dedicated relationship with Riko, however in different salient features of her life, together with asserting management over her physique. Therefore, whilst Haru steps into Riko’s world, she finds herself drowning in the identical feeling of being suffocated in a setup she has but to totally perceive. Consequently, whereas it’s the distinction of their personalities and predisposition which pulls them collectively, it is usually what attracts them aside. 

Ando performs with colours, symbolism and a slapdash of fantasy to point out the melancholia and inside musings of the characters. For the reason that general aesthetic of the movie is quiet and grey, when she illuminates scenes in sturdy colours, the shift within the moodscape may be very, very obvious.  The best way she additionally establishes the spatial limitations of Haru as a manifestation of her very restricted world earlier than she meets Riko additionally steers the viewers into witnessing how Haru’s universe expands when she additionally begins  to discover the potential of liking a woman. From the same old bridges, routes and rooms she frequents, her environs change to the place Riko takes her. 

Hikari Mitsushima and Eriko Nakamura, who play Haru and Riko, respectively, embody the sensibilities of their characters very nicely. Individually, they’re scintillating because it’s very evident how dedicated they’re to their roles. Hikari is immaculate because the awkward woman who has a tough time discovering her voice in a relationship, whereas Riko’s boldness is intriguing. Each characters might have been caricature-ish, however the two actresses lend sufficient layers of depth to their efficiency to verify it doesn’t go in direction of that route.  One other actress whose efficiency is value mentioning is that of Rino Katase as Toko, who catches Riko’s consideration in very other ways. Whereas Haru hurts Riko along with her dithering, the latter gravitates to Toko, certainly one of their shoppers in her job. Toko, an older lady additionally steeped in her personal inner turmoil, shares a reference to Riko that’s distinctive to the 2 of them. Katase delivers the scarred-but-beautiful characterization with poignancy. 

There are different vital components that add texture to “Kakera.” One is James Iha’s musical scoring. Iha, who is among the founders of the American different rock band Smashing Pumpkins, builds the environment of the film with inviting, trendy music.  The opposite is the dialogue. There may be a lot to unpack within the strains of the characters, particularly that of Riko’s. Her phrases hit within the intestine and function a nod to Sakurazawa and Ando’s eloquence as writers. That they made Riko as a prosthetist can also be not simply decorative nor incidental. Since she is within the subject of making synthetic physique elements, she is aware of how a lot vital it’s to deal with the sense of loss, vacancy and the gravity of contact. 

Ando’s camerawork and juxtaposition of photographs additionally vivify the supply of Haru’s harrowing scenario when she was nonetheless along with her boyfriend. In a pivotal scene which exhibits how trapped Haru is and the way powerless she is below his management, she lies nonetheless on the ground whereas he does what he needs to her physique, with scenes of a literal battle enjoying on the TV of their background. 

“Kakera: A Piece of Our Life” treads on the volatility of relationships and the emotional maelstrom one goes by way of particularly at youth. It exhibits how the conclusion and assertion of sexual orientation and gender id might be liberating for some, however not wholly, instantaneously releasing for others, particularly when the individual, on her personal, is trapped in her personal vortex of vulnerabilities. 

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