Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dear Deer

“A woman stares at a deserted exhibition in the local museum, a place said to be haunted by the phantom of a deer, “Ryomo-Shika”... Twenty-five years earlier three siblings reported seeing the deer, becoming first famous, then infamous when their claim was debunked. The fallout was devastating. The second son, Yoshio, is now living in a psychiatric institution; Akiko, the unsociable youngest daughter, lives in the country with an older man; and the eldest son, Fujio, who has remained in town, is burdened with debt from the family’s failing business. Now, with their father dying, the three siblings along with their respective partners and friends, have returned home, their first reunion in many years. But time hasn’t dulled their rivalries and or their rancour. They find themselves once again at a crossroads in life.”

(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.

I admit that I misunderstood the movie description in the program, so I thought it would be some sort of ghost story. Not at all.

When they were kids, siblings Fujio, Yoshio and Akiko saw a rare deer that was supposed to be extinct and took a blurry picture. But people thought it was an hoax and that they lied to attract attention or just misidentified a common deer. They were quite hurt no to be believed. On top of that, after their mother's death, their father became quite abusive, so the younger brother and sister left their hometown and the older brother stayed to take care of the family business. He has to work hard to keep it (and the town) together despite serious economic problems as a big development company tries to buy off the land. The younger brother seem to have a mild case of obsessive-compulsive disorder as he seems to have internalize all his guilt and frustrations from the childhood. The younger sister is good looking and has always had her ways with men, but unfortunately she eloped with a loser. She is very selfish but she eventually soften. She has a very unhappy life in Tokyo.

Twenty-five years later, they come back to their hometown when their father become gravely ill. They all have been greatly affected by their childhood have serious psychological problems. The death of the father brings back to the surface all their issues and what stayed unsaid for a long time is being expressed making their return trip a cathartic experience that is finally freeing them from the weight that had kept them miserable for all those years.

This is a very beautiful and interesting movie. Japanese movies are always good at showing us the beauty of the countryside. The director said that he was inspired by the fact that people from the countryside and people from the city seem to have very different mentality and way of life.

Dear Deer (ディアーディアー): Japan, 2015, 107 mins; Dir.: Takeo Kikuchi; Scr.: Noriaki Sugihara; Ed.: Azusa Yamazaki; Music: Takuro Okada; Cast: Yuri Nakamura (Akiko), Yoichiro Saito (Yoshio), Shota Sometani (Fujio), Kôji Kiryû, Rinko Kikuchi, Yûrei Yanagi, Takeshi Yamamoto, Wakana Matsumoto, Yasushi Masaoka.

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on September 3rd, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 9, 11h00 – the theatre was filled only at 10% of its capacity) as part of the “First Film World Competition” segment. The director was present to introduce the movie and for a Q&A afterward.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

Dear Deer © 2015 Office Kiryu.

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