This was one of those films where twenty minutes in, I was aimlessly trying to figure out where it was all heading, in terms of its reoccurring shots of ghosts, standing as a group in a morgue, gazing upon an autopsy performed on a newly deceased human being. I knew this wasn't going to be a typical ghost storied drama, or whether the presence of these ghosts was just apart of one character's imagination.
The story is centered in a medical facility which performs post mortem on the deceased, with a crew of medical students and crime solvers at hand - it runs a tight ship. A range of characters and the busy bee staff atmosphere was reminiscent of the director's past films Bayside Shakedown, however characters here were much more confined, much less humorous, if not a bit one dimensional and disconnected from the outside world. One man who everyone looks up to for expertise is Makoto, a gloomy doctor who spends as much time at cutting up the bodies as he does at looking for clues around the areas where the bodies were found. By the way, the autopsy scenes are not nearly or at all visceral as ones seen in Vital, so don't be alarmed.
Makoto has lost his wife to a automobile accident and finds himself in great solitude, as he leaves work for his empty condo day after day, where everything reminds him of his lost love. But that's not all, Makoto sees her every night, illuminating in a dark corner of his living room, lingering at him, expressionless. Halfway through the film we discover his gift and the curse and how it ties with his unfortunate duties of investigating deaths of both young and old as well as of his wife. After shelving the deep scars and the mystery of his wife's death, Makoto finally decides to confront the past and ultimately face the present.
This film moves at a very slow pace, with a pleasant use of exaggerated cinematography of nature's different scopes as well as accommodating music and fine performances. However Makoto will still persist to challenge viewers favoring faster paced fantasy thrillers and mystery dramas dealing with the supernatural. And with an almost two hour stretch, this film, just like the spirits within, often drifted from touching to dull, from dark to vacant, sporadically gripping my attention.
Unfortunately the ending left me in a hollow, unaffected state, which may or may not have been its sole purpose all along. This did not overshadow the process, which I vastly enjoyed. A hard genre to find an all round satisfaction in, but with the popularity of a recent hit Be With You, the writers will keep trying to come up with more clever and harmonious tales of lost love in the parallel worlds of the living and the dead.
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