20 November 2012 8:57 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

A relative unknown, Katsuya Tomita, has captured the rootlessness and social discontents of young Japanese

Uncertainty is not good for a film's career, and there are plenty of unknowns surrounding Saudade (a particularly Portuguese form of longing). Directed by Katsuya Tomita, whose day job is driving trucks, it has recently released in France, where no one has ever heard of his two previous efforts. Saudade focuses on the problems of identity and social discontent of several groups of rootless youths. Its characters are unpredictable, alternately languid and enraged, erratic and evasive. The oppressive atmosphere is equally difficult to grasp. The setting in Kofu, population 200,000, the capital of Japan's Yamanashi prefecture, lacks distinctive features, apart perhaps from its vineyards.

On the other hand there are very good reasons to see this uncompromising chronicle of social decay, largely at odds with current Japanese cinema. The way Tomita ties together his fragmented tale is highly original. »

- Jacques Mandelbaum

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