Radiance (Hikari) (2017)

NAOMI KAWASE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.  Japan/France, 2017.  Comme des Cinémas, Kino Films, Kumie, MK2 Productions.  Screenplay by Naomi Kawase.  Produced by Naoya Kinoshita, Masa Sawada, Yumiko Takebe.  Music by Ibrahim Maalouf.  Film Editing by Tina Baz.  Cannes Film Festival 2017.  Toronto International Film Festival 2017.

Ayame Misaki in Radiance.

Ayame Misaki is excellent as a woman who has been assigned the task of writing the narration for films whose soundtracks have been modified for the visually impaired.  She spends a great deal of her day observing the world around her and practices describing the things she sees, then screens scenes from the film with her written passages for a focus group who give her feedback on the effectiveness of her work.  The only naysayer in a bunch is a blind photographer whose bitterness stems from his having lost his sight as an adult, retaining just enough to still fight for the little bit of light he can use to maintain the life he knew previously.  Hokey and shallow, Naomi Kawase’s melodrama is awash in cheap sentimentality and painful symbolism: at the point that the two main characters become friends and she tells him how much she loves sunsets, you might want to give up, though great acting and beautiful photography at least help keep the empty experience from being too boring.

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