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A teenager called Noriko Shimabara runs away from her family in Tokoyama, to meet Kumiko, the leader of an Internet BBS, Haikyo.com. She becomes involved with Kumiko's "family circle", which grows darker after the mass suicide of 54 high school girls. Written by
A film where the characters endlessly yap their mouths, but are somehow able to say absolutely nothing at the same time.
I'm a pretty big fan of Sion Sono, with "Love Exposure" (2008), "Strange Circus" (2005), and "Hair Extensions" (2007) being amongst my personal favorites from his portfolio. Even his more recent exploitation-style films like "Cold Fish" (2010) and "Guilty of Romance" (2011) have enough to hold interest, despite their skittish foundations. "Noriko's Dinner Table" (2005) is a dramatic spin off to the gruesome "Suicide Club" (2002). I read up on the film before seeking it out, so I knew what I was in for in terms of style: a slow-paced, character driven art-house flick that was very different from its predecessor. What I got was a boring movie that outstayed its welcome within the opening hour, then dragged mercilessly for another hour-and-a-half.
The plot is bland, the acting is spotty, and the primary psychological elements are unfocused and sloppy. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this film abuses narration to such an extreme that massive amounts of superfluous verbiage are used when only a few mere images would suffice. What results is an unbearable series of events that seem to exist for no other reason than to show something during the unending narration. The dialogue is drawn out yet somehow empty virtually nothing of interest is said. Even after 159 minutes of characters constantly yapping (they literally cannot keep their mouths shut for more than 10 seconds at a time), the viewer inexplicably comes away from this movie with almost no additional understanding of the primary themes behind "Suicide Club", a film that also suffered from meaningless psychobabble but overpowered its flaws with horrific imagery.
Subsequent to my initial disappointment, I attempted to rewatch "Noriko's Dinner Table" on two separate occasions, but simply could not make it past the opening hour. I'm frankly amazed that I made it the whole way through the first time around.
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