Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Japan, 2005. Monkey Town Productions. Screenplay by Masahiro Kobayashi. Cinematography by Koichi Saito. Produced by Masahiro Kobayashi, Naoko Okamura. Music by Masahiro Kobayashi. Film Editing by Naoki Kaneko. Cannes Film Festival 2005.
It’s a pretty surreal society you’re living in when your peers punish you for being a survivor. After volunteering in Iraq and surviving being taken as a hostage, Yuko comes back to Japan only to find out that she has brought shame, not honour, to her fellow citizens. She is shunned by all, fired from her job, treated with threatening phone calls all day, and has to suffer the embarrassment of putting her family in a difficult situation when her father is also let go from his place of employment. She herself is proud of the work she did overseas; where she feels like just another person back home, in Iraq she felt special and needed. This terribly grim drama lacks for depth, but it is intelligent, well acted, and painfully realistic. We never get close enough to the characters, however, for it to hit us in a particularly emotional spot. Director Masahiro Kobayashi tells a very damning story about his culture but doesn’t give a thorough enough examination of what motivates this kind of treatment of someone who should be thought of as a hero; as a result the film leaves you wanting more.