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Four youths share a two bedroom apartment in a corner of Tokyo. A series of assault cases occur in the same district. Eighteen year old Satoru, a male prostitute, joins them as a new house mate. Their daily life slowly starts to change.
I don't know of too many actors who take part in so many films a year as Asano has been doing so intrepidly since 2003, yet end up featured in as many remarkable films with equally engaging performances as him.
In the Portrait of the Wind, Asano, sporting a ponytail plays Tamio, a low-key photographer working out of his late father's photo studio. In a small town where everyone knows each other, Tamio meets Ayako through his childhood, but much younger friend Mari. Apart from her wholesome good looks, there was a certain notion of vacancy and loneliness about her. Tamio didn't come off too different himself, since after working as a photographer in Palestine where he saw the many deaths, the effects attributed to him losing some part of himself and even the fear of dying. Perhaps to fill a certain mutual void they started spending more time together. Having grown up in a broken home Ayako lacked confidence in the family life, but after falling for Tamio, starting a family of her own became inevitable.
A premonition of something unpleasant happening was all too obvious as things between Tamio and Ayako couldn't have been any better. A three month pregnant Ayako abruptly fell victim to a troubled youth, who followed her home one day. At first Tamio's reaction felt minimal as the film omitted tearful moments that some viewers might have considered essential, but with growing months of longing her and the news of the boy gaining his freedom gradually evoked frustration inside him. The strenuous attempts to confront the killer and attempts to move on with his life filled the second half of this film with few flashbacks of Ayako that Tamio had attained in their short time together.
A film which may have lacked the explosive performance that we are used to seeing from Asano's more famed films, in part due to his constrained character, was nonetheless touching and tragic. Topped with a good score from Akiko Yano's playful and heartfelt melodies, this slightly slow paced drama avoided the benevolently romanticized characteristics of more commercially successful films, but moved at a captivating pace. Asano, featured in the cast with mostly young(er) actors, effortlessly delivered exactly what was asked of his character. The ending was abrupt and inconclusive of some signifying matters, but it avoided coming off pretentious and overly puzzling. A sad film about a simple misfortune with subtle yet prolific symbolisms entwined, that at the end left it up to its viewer to envision the final portrait or accept it the way it was, just like the headless statue of goddess Nike in the Louvre museum.
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