Thursday, August 04, 2016


“Akane, a young woman who lives in a small rural town in Japan, loses her mother when she is a child, and cannot overcome the loss. Akane’s father had left her mother’s side before she passed away because he went to perform kagura, a traditional ritual dance at Japanese festivals. Akane has never forgiven him and seldom talks to him. Not that he doesn’t regret his action. He too was deeply affected by his wife’s death and he never performed kagura again. Akane leaves home after high school graduation, and starts a new life far away in Tokyo. But life in the big city is overwhelming and Akane returns home after five years. Thirteen years after her mother’s death, Akane’s father has decided to come out of retirement, just to be able to dance in the big 60th anniversary festival. But he has aged. He has serious health problems. He collapses in rehearsal and it becomes clear that he won’t be able to perform. But Akane’s heart has softened. How can she help him? Perhaps by learning kagura?”

(Text from the Festival's program)

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot's elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

This movie is very Japanese: it is beautiful and slow paced. It’s a rather complex story and the festival’s program did a very good job at summarizing it, so I won’t say more about it. It’s set around a rural ritual where one danse to please the gods in order to get a good harvest, but it’s a story about grief, about caring for elderly parents, and a little about domestic violence. It poses a very fundamental question about modern life in Japan: is it better to preserve the tradition as it always was or should we adapt it to modern life and therefore preserve the tradition spirit rather than its strict form?

Exceptionally, this movie was subtitled in french (which is rather rare at the MWFF as it is done mostly for the movies in competition) but, unfortunately, this time the subtitling was full of mistakes. Bad translation and spelling mistakes can be quite distracting from the movie itself. The translation was probably done hastily to present the movie at the festival.

All in all, it remains a beautiful movie (Japan’s countryside is always pleasant to look at) about the trials of life.

Kagura-me (かぐらめ / lit. “god enjoyment’s woman”): Japan, 2015, 112 mins; Dir.: Yasuo Okuaki; Scr.: Yasuo Okuaki & Nozomu Namba; Music: Kôji Igarashi; Phot.: Hiroshi Iwanaga; Prod. Des.: Takashi Yoshida; Cast: Tomomitsu Adachi, Mayumi Asaka, Masayuki Imai, Tsunehiko Kamijô, Mei Kurokawa, Ryoichi Kusanagi, Ryû Morioka, Nanako Ohkôchi, Maki Seko, Masayuki Shida, Keiko Shirasu, Rina Takeda, Ryoko Takizawa, Mariko Tsutsui, Ren Ôsugi.

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 29th, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 9, 15h00 – the theatre was a little less than a quarter full) as part of the “First Film World Competition” segment. The production team organizer was present to introduce the movie.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

Introduction of the screening

Kagura-me © 「Kagura-me」Production Committee.

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