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If you're willing to unfold the creases of your mind, you might just come away with a smile.
Kakera- A piece of our Life There are films you love, films you hate and films that, quite frankly, leave you more perplexed than Dubbya-Dubbya and his bumper book of Sudoku. This one is likely to fall into that latter category for many people as Momoko Ando's directorial debut is something of an enigma, but if you're willing to unfold the creases of your mind, you might just come away with a smile.
I wanted to start this piece with a string of the films and directors that have clearly inspired the film, and whilst one might be inclined to suggest more than just the delicacy and vibrancy of Wong-Kar Wai (in particular Chungking Express) or even similarities to the female-female relationship at the centre of Ji-Woon Kim's 'A Tale Of Two Sisters' (don't let its 'J-Horror' tag fool you), to do so would be to remove the essence of Kakera- A piece of our Life and to replace it with something less unique, more generic and undeniably Hollywood, ultimately fuelling a presupposition that in all likelihood would not represent the film with complete honesty. So, with that in mind I would like to instead offer this man's thoughts with the hope that any subjectivity here is simply the by-product of a mind unfolded.
Based loosely (80% is supposedly new material written solely for the screen) on the 1996 manga 'Love Vibes' by Japanese manga artist Erica Sakurazawa, Kakera is the story of Haru, a quiet college student in a loveless relationship with a character designed to dislike, and Riko, a young prosthetist with a penchant for the women and something of a 'Yandere' character, who meet one day, quite by chance, in a cafe. Riko shows an immediate interest in Haru and this simple encounter is the catalyst for the entire film.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is that it is peppered with little gems of wisdom (perhaps the most inspiring being the idea of not wasting any opportunity for the fear of not getting another one carpe diem if you will) and is often conducive to helpless smiles (just see if you don't when you see Haru prodding Riko's bum). On the other hand, it also invites you to share in the frustrations born of feeling trapped (you'll see just that when Riko joins Haru on a couple of occasions at college socials).
There are several instances of subtle visual rhetoric that will, should you find them, reward you with a more complete viewing and give you food for thought for the trouble. One such rhetoric, however, is so glaring and unrealistic (a 'soda-pop' bottle is thrown into the air whereupon it transforms into a two-headed dove (!?) and flies away) much of the audience gave audible smirks of disbelief.
As for the questions asked Well, really there is only one, but the point is to find it for yourself and if you find others, all the better. Admittedly, this can sometimes be frustrating and certainly there were members of the screening audience that didn't see this even by the time the credits rolled, but these questions, even if just allusions to them, can often enrich a cinematic experience thank you, Coen Brothers.
So for anybody with an interest in Japanese culture, this film will do you proud. Whilst this is no tourist advert (the cast is tiny (and thus not representative of a cross section of society) and the locations drab), fans of cinema and culture-enthusiasts alike will enjoy the little flourishes of genius and the fact that it's simply a Japanese movie, respectively. For everybody else, go see it and let it open your mind. Sometimes a question is better asked than a question answered.
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