Film Review: Kikujiro (1999) by Takeshi Kitano

After successful the Golden Lion Award on the 1997 Venice Movie Pageant for “Hana-Bi”, the curiosity in Takeshi Kitano’s works as a director was at its peak, with many calling him one of the crucial necessary filmmakers in at this time’s Japan, even going as far as to match him to Akira Kurosawa. Whereas the worldwide fame was actually not unwelcome, Kitano couldn’t assist however discover the shift between the media consideration he obtained in his dwelling nation versus the way in which he was now perceived in different international locations, but in addition how he was related to the yakuza-genre and the themes inside it. In a method, his subsequent characteristic “Kikujiro” will be considered as a method to indicate a distinct aspect to his persona and his work, one which had already been current in “Children Return” or “A Scene on the Sea”, and in addition an exploration right into a style he had not carried out earlier than, the street film. It was a problem he had looked for, Kitano defined in interviews, a characteristic he would use to experiment with the language of the medium and which might shock viewers anticipating one other gangster movie.

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Whereas his classmates stay up for the summer season trip, considering with pleasure and pleasure to their mother and father taking journeys with them to the ocean and different locations, Masao (Yosuke Sekiguchi) is sad now that each one of his pals are gone for weeks, his soccer observe is canceled, and his grandmother has her fingers full along with her small enterprise, leaving her grandchild alone at dwelling for a lot of the day. One morning, nonetheless, he receives a letter addressed to his grandmother, which will need to have been written by his mom, who now lives in Toyohashi, a city a number of miles from the place Masao lives. As a result of he has by no means met his mom and solely is aware of her from photos in the home, the boy decides to go to her, however is stopped within the streets by the varsity bullies, who’re pushed away by Kikjiro (Takeshi Kitano) and his girlfriend.

Realizing Masao has not one to take care of him, however is nonetheless set on making the journey, the lady provides Kikujiro some cash, asking him to be his guard through the journey. Nevertheless, since her boyfriend is a good-for-nothing gambler and bully, he wastes not time spending no matter cash they’ve. After he has arrived simply in time to forestall Masao from being additional molested by a wierd man, Kikujiro lastly decides to do what was requested of him and makes use of no matter cash he has left to make the journey to Toyohashi, and be extra accountable. It’s the starting of an extended journey outlined by many obstacles, misunderstandings and beatings, but in addition one throughout which each of them notice necessary truths about themselves.

Despite the fact that it could be marketed as such, maybe it’s best to treat “Kikujiro” not as a film for youngsters. Other than scenes such because the one with the kid molester and Kikujiro beating a truck driver, the themes of progress and self-realization are embedded throughout the improvement of each characters, making Kitano’s eight characteristic a really mature work about transition. The varied levels on their journey mark not solely the event of their emotional bond, as indicated by sure similarities, like them carrying Hawaii-shirts or participating in infantile video games, but in addition their particular person progress, highlighted by vital confrontations they’ve alongside the way in which. Though Kikujiro is the grownup on the floor, each of them are youngsters in their very own method, introverted and lonely, and thus marked by an emotional hole of their lives which made them what they’re at this time.

One of the important facets of “Kikujiro” is the chemistry between the 2 lead actors. As Masao, little one actor Yosuke Sekiguchi is ready to present the deep disappointment of a boy who needed to spend most of his childhood alone, eager for a extra profound emotional connection, one he needs to interact in as soon as he meets his actual mom. Just like Kitano’s efficiency as Kikujiro, the appearing is characterised by the “useless pan”-expression – a trademark for the director’s method – which cleverly leaves a lot of what’s going on inside these characters to the creativeness of the viewer, making an emotional outburst, optimistic or unfavorable, all of the extra profound and touching. This sort of high quality, whereas it was current to some extent in “A Scene on the Sea”, for instance, has by no means been as emphasised as in “Kikujiro”, which can be based within the connection to the director’s biography (his father’s title was additionally Kikujiro and their relationship was distant, to place it mildly, and would afterward encourage Kitano’s efficiency in Yoichi Sai’s “Blood and Bones”).

Other than the appearing, perhaps essentially the most vital facet of “Kikujiro” is, as with many different options by the director, the collaboration with composer Joe Hisashi. Tracks reminiscent of “Summer time”, “Evening Mare” or “Angel Bell” not solely spotlight the assorted levels of the characters’ journey, but in addition themes reminiscent of improvisation, once they must make ends meet with no matter cash or meals they’ve left, or loneliness.

In conclusion, “Kikujiro” is a street film about loneliness and one’s transition into maturity and self-realization. Takeshi Kitano efficiently diverts from the gangster style, which has made him well-known internationally, presenting one in every of his most accessible and in addition touching works.

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