A slow-paced sober film about family, life & love in a Japanese provincial town
Shara is about a family living in a (beautifully shot) Japanese town, which is a bit devoid of the modern culture we'd expect from Japan. The people live in a traditional way, and prepare for the annual Shara-festival. The film begins with a beautifully long shot running through the city. Some years ago, the family has experienced a trauma, which they still cannot come to terms with. Everyone is still in denial and shock, and tries to put away their emotions by diverting their attention to something else: making a painting, organizing the Shara festival, etc. We follow the main protagonist, teenager Shun, through life and love after his traumatic youth. He's in love with Yu, who has to deal with her own family problems.
The turning-point in the film is the opening procession of the festival itself. It's really exciting to watch the dance with its clapping and shouting, especially in the torrential rain that suddenly starts halfway through. The contrast with the 'restrained' first hour of the film is enormous. After rain comes sun, which is symbolical for the family, maybe even in a cliché way. But it works! It's great cinema. Near the end of the film, a happy family event takes place, which brings hope for the future.
It's not an easy film to watch, it's very slow-paced, and some scenes with little activity take some patience to watch. But I think it brings you more on the level of the family and daily events in Nara (it's actually the birthplace of the director). And some beautiful long takes of the city are a joy to watch.
Don't be in a hurry, and maybe you'll experience a beautiful, quiet and spiritual film. (If you are in a hurry, please leave the cinema quietly.)
7/10, I'm not really sure yet
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