Film review: A Girl Missing (2019) by Koji Fukada

How a lot our lives can get destroyed simply by plain coincidence or the significantly unhealthy string of coincidences? It’s an ages-long philosophical query that has been handled in films virtually from the start. Japanese auteur Koji Fukada, nonetheless, doesn’t take the standard path to inform this sort of story. It’s not a thriller or a thriller, it’s a psychological drama targeted on one singular character within the midst of the turmoil. “A Woman Lacking” premiered in Locarno and we caught it at Viennale.

“A Woman Lacking” is screening at Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema

The character right here is Ichiko (Mariko Tsutsui, who labored earlier than with Fukada in his best-known movie Harmonium three years in the past), whom we meet as Risa Uchida, a widow in search of a change in her life. She says that on to her hairdresser Kazumichi (Ikematsu Sosuke), explaining that she selected him due to his final title he shares along with her late husband. The 2 of them begin a pleasant relationship that may flip into one thing extra romantic, however there’s something off about it. It’s not the age distinction, it’s Risa / Ichiko, her habits on spying on the neighbouring condominium from her, mildly put, minimalist house, and the key she harbors.

In her earlier life, Ichiko was a nurse in a hospital, with a doctor-fiancé (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) and a aspect job of taking good care of an aged artist Toko Oishi (Hisako Ookata) at her house, the place she bonded along with her grand-daughters, older Motoko (Mikako Ichikawa) and youthful Saki (Miyu Ogawa). It may not be a glamorous life, however she loved it. Effectively, till the second when Saki went lacking for a number of days and got here again. It seems she was kidnapped by Ichiko’s nephew (Ren Sudo) and her “half”was introducing the 2 throughout a purely random encounter. Quickly sufficient, the blood-thirsty tabloids and sensationalist TV reporters begin respiratory on her neck, and she or he loses the belief of Oishi household and her co-workers, primarily denying her proper to work…

very first thing that involves the attention is how the 2 separate timelines,
instructed parallelly, are arduous to differentiate from each other. They each
appear drab in color, emotion and set design, and solely when Fukada
masterfully interconnects them on the identical place (town zoo) and
with the identical story too uncommon to be spoiled right here occurring on the
very second in a single timeline and resurfacing as a reminiscence within the different,
we get the entire image. Each the design and the flowery narrative
system serve the aim very nicely in portraying Ichiko’s state of
thoughts. In retrospective, the director does the identical all through the
movie, rigorously planting the leads and the crimson herrings, however with no
intention to attain some straightforward factors.

hassle is, nonetheless, that the peeling of layers and the thriller of
Ichiko’s intentions within the latter timeline lacks some deeper
insights. Merely, she skilled some unhealthy luck, she made some unhealthy
selections, however she remained passive at essential conditions, by no means even
attempting to clarify herself. So the revenge she tries to serve chilly is
ethically doubtful as a result of the targets she goals for aren’t those that
primarily made her life hell at first place, although they’ve additionally
made their selections that had been unjust.

Mariko Tsutsui, nonetheless, is a pure pleasure to look at. Her character is enigmatic, however in a seemingly plain, reasonable manner due to her interpretation. He by no means misses a tone and convincingly holds the entire movie collectively. The remainder of the solid complement her with their performances and that proves to be essential for the life-like high quality of the movie. Paired with Koji Fukada’s attention-grabbing storytelling and strictly directorial options, it makes “A Woman Lacking” a obligatory look ahead to the viewers curious about Japanese arthouse cinema.



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