Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
This cool, detached Japanese drama risks being pigeonholed as a mystery simply because it never fully explains what exactly is happening. By downplaying the (already negligible) plot and working in brief, reticent episodes the film becomes an infuriating (some would say pretentious) labyrinth, full of odd twists, turns, and too many dead ends, but always moving toward an unknown but inevitable conclusion. It begins when a strange, dispassionate (almost comatose) young man arrives in a quiet country villa, where his nervous host is given anonymous instructions to attend to his guest's every need. Exactly what the stranger is hiding from or waiting for only becomes clear in the final few scenes, when a popular (and likewise unidentified) cult figure visits the town on a scheduled tour. After all the intrigue and anticipation the final piece of the puzzle can't help but come as a letdown, but the complete picture is nevertheless unsettling and haunting, however much it strains the viewer's patience.
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