Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 5th, 2014
Theatrical Release Dates: Japan, 2012
Director: Ryohei Watanabe
Writer: Ryohei Watanabe
Cast: Izumi Okamura, mimpi*ß, Isao Nakazawa, Gota Ishida, Ayumi Seko
DVD released: March 24th, 2014
Approximate running time: 94 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region 2 NTSC (UK)
Retail Price: £11.00
Synopsis: Two girls who on the surface couldn’t be more different form an unusual bound.
At the heart of this film is a story about friendship and its ups and downs. Besides friendship this film also takes an unflinching look at loneliness and ones need for companionship from others. This examination of loneliness is especially resonates since we live in world were technology greatly contributes an isolated existence where we communicate through devices, instead of talking face to face.
Narrative wise this character driven melodrama is meticulously constructed and pacing is never an issues as each new revelation is given an ample amount of time to right its maximum impact. Further reinforcing this film’s strong narrative are its two well defined main characters Izumi and Risa, who’s classmates sometimes call her ‘Pooh’ because of her last name ‘Kumada’ (bear + rice paddy) and her chubby figure. Where Risa has all the traits of an outcast, the same cannot be said for Izumi who is very attractive girl and has all the traits one would associate with being popular in high school. And yet despite being polar opposites on the surface, it is their similarities inwardly that ultimately bring them together.
For a film where everything seems to just fall perfectly in place, it is astounding that this film was the first feature film for the three main creative forces behind this project screenwriter / director Ryohei Watanabe and actresses mimpi*ß, in the role of Risa and Izumi Okamura, in the role of Izumi. This film’s two leading ladies have a tremendous amount of chemistry and they both create utterly convincing performances. And because of this there is a natural feel to the progression of their relationship, which makes their relationship pendulum moment all the more disturbing. And not to be overlooked is Ryohei Watanabe’s solid direction which firmly establishes the mood. For many first time filmmakers this first foray usually ends up being a learning ground from which they learn from and refine their craft. In the case of Ryohei Watanabe, one would be hard pressed to find many debut films better then what he has crafted here.
Saving the best for last, not since Takashi Miike’s Audition has there been a film that has turned what had come before the final act on its head. And this is precisely what happens in Shady, what starts off as yet another quirky coming of age story quickly transforms into something far more sinister. With that being said, though Shady is the type of the film that sticks with you long after its final shocking reveal. It is also a film that requires paying attention to even the little detail and multiple viewings are a must to fully appreciate all of this film’s subtle nuances.
Third Window Films presents Shady in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s intended aspect ratio. Reportedly this film was shot on a very modest budget and yet the end result is a transfer that looks very good. Like many low budget films, the darker scenes tend not to look as sharp as the rest of the film. With that being said, these dimly lit scenes still look consistently good throughout. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details generally look crisp and edge enhancement is kept in check.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Japanese. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented and the film’s score sounds appropriately robust. Also included with this release are options to watch this film with or without English subtitles.
Extras for this release include interviews with actresses mimpi*ß and Izumi Okamura (10 minutes 44 seconds –anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles) and screenwriter / director Ryohei Watanabe (7 minutes 30 seconds –anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles). Both of these interviews offer up a lot of insight into the making of this film and more specifically each participants role in this film to life. Also included with this release is a Weblink extra that takes you too Third Window Films website and their YouTube trailer page. Overall Shady gets a first rate release from Third Window Films, recommended.