Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 3rd, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2011
Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Sion Sono
Cast: Shôta Sometani, Fumi Nikaidô, Tetsu Watanabe, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Ken Mitsuishi, Makiko Watanabe, Asuka Kurosawa, Denden, Jun Murakami, Yôsuke Kubozuka, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Takahiro Nishijima, Anne Suzuki
BluRay released: August 6th, 2012
Approximate running time: 129 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese
BluRay Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £13.99
When talking about filmmakers, who in a league of all of their own. Near the top of any such list should bear the name Sion Sono, a filmmaker who is not only one of Japan’s most gifted. He is easily the most provocative filmmaking working in Japan and dare I say it anywhere in the world.
Though the starting point for this film’s plot originated from a manga of the same name that was written by Minoru Furuya. It is not this film only inspiration, with the 2011 earthquake and tsunami being fused with Minoru Furuya’s aforementioned manga.
At the heart of this film is a most unusual love story between two survivors of a recent tsunami. And while there are many fleshed out sub plots that crop up along the way. It is these two characters relationship and its evolution that ultimately drive this film’s narrative.
Another area in which this film often excels is the way in which its examines it’s protagonists need to lead a normal life. Thus by him focusing on this goal, he is living anything a life that is anything remotely close to being normal.
For me one thing that always draws me into each new Sion Sono, is the way he develops each and every one of his characters. No character is too small or unimportant. And never is this more apparent then it is in Himizu, which arguably have his richest and most defined collection of characters to date. And while the characters are the heart and soul of this film. One must not overlook the way in which this film uses imagery and music. The film’s employs two well known classical music pieces, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s: Requiem Mass in D Minor and Samuel Osborne Barber’s: Adagio for Strings.
Pacing wise there are no major issues. With the opening act having a chaotic feel to it that perfectly complements that state of confusion that characters are now in after the tsunami. The middle act is the most deliberately paced of the three acts, as it focuses on the choices its characters are making. With the final act taking on a frenetic pace as it brings closer to all the events which have just transpired.
Performance wise the entire cast are superb. With the film’s standout performances coming from its protagonist Shôta Sometani in the role of Yuichi, the young man searching for a normal life and Fumi Nikaidô in the role of Keiko, a young woman with a severe crush on Yuichi. Far to often actors are paired together and they lack the much needed chemistry to sell such a relationship as the one depicted in this film. Fortunately that is not the case here as these two actors flawless play off each other and are easily this film’s most resilient asset.
Himizu comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This is yet another strong transfer from Third Window films that one would be hard pressed to find any faults in it. Details look crisp, colors and flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels look great and there are no problems with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. This in not the type of film that is going to wow with its dynamic range and it shouldn’t since it is a dialog driven film that relies often on more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. With that being said the audio track, like the transfer are top notch.
All of the extras for this release are included on a second disc (a DVD) and they are as follows, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 9 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), deleted scenes (26 minutes 44 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), a interview with actor Denden (19 minutes 20 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), who discuss how he got cast for this film, he had previously worked with Sion Sono on the film Cold Fish and he compares his performance from the film with his performance from Himizu, what type of character he likes to portray as a actor and he closes with a message to UK fans of the film. Other extras include a ‘Making of’ documentary (72 minutes 52 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), which includes comments from the cast about the film, the roles they played and director Sion Sono. Rounding out the extras trailers for other titles also available from Third Window Films. Overall Himizu gets a solid release from Third Window Films.
Note: Third Window Films are also releasing Himizu on DVD.