Waking up in a public park with no trousers on and an unknown woman lying with her head in your lap isn't the best way to start a relationship, even less so when Renji Sawaki (Tadanobu Asano), a junior government minister, discovers that the woman Yuriko (Kyokon Koizumi) is the hostess at a "pink club", and that he has agreed a suicide pact with her. In the sober cold light of day Sawaki thinks better of it, but as his personal life and career are in bad shape, he decides it might be an opportune moment to get away from things and takes up Yuriko's offer to travel to the remote island of Hokkaido, where she hopes to be reunited with a daughter she left behind as a baby five years previously.
The reasons for this unlikely alliance aren't immediately clear and Somai's complicated, challenging structure doesn't help. Two threads, occasionally interweaving, move backwards in time in a disorienting manner, tracing the events that have brought both characters together in despair. The main road-movie thread of Yuriko and Sawaki travelling to Yuriko's hometown in Hokkaido is also a difficult journey with two very different personalities, each with their own problems and unable to find any solace in each other's company, the journey isn't exactly a forward looking one either. The outlook in Kaza-hana may be constantly bleak, but the emotional pay-off makes it worthwhile, and the performance of the two leads is outstanding.
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