|Index||4 reviews in total|
10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Personal, creative and devastating., 21 September 2012
Author: Gidim_Xul from Sweden
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In a story that is co-written by its star, Cocco, we're also allowed
into her personal life. The themes of this film are based on her real
personality. Although it's very likely it goes to this extreme: Kotoko
is a single mother that is suffering from an illness that gives her
double vision. This double vision is not your typical optical issue,
but more like an hallucination. It causes her to see two of the people
she meets, and one of the two is usually the good or bad opposite of
the other. The question is, which one is real? She has learned that she
doesn't have double vision as long as she sings. But this is not
something she seems to take advantage of. Because of this, she's
terrified of letting her child meet strangers. Ultimately, this causes
her to decide that they need to isolate themselves in the apartment.
But after a big breakdown which causes authorities to think she is
abusing the child, they take it from her and give the custody to
Kotoko's sister. Kotoko is allowed to meet her child now and then, but
things are not the same. Kotoko's inevitable downfall involves her
harming herself more and more. This is where Tanaka (played by
Tsukamoto himself) steps in. He found himself fascinated by Kotoko
after hearing her sing on the bus, and begins to stalk her in hopes to
get her hand marriage. After realizing she is deeply troubled, he is
still set on getting her love, so he (obsessively) tries to help her
through it. By letting her harm him, instead of herself.
One of the opinion-dividing things about "Kotoko" is how much you feel that you have to understand about her. Her character is suffering greatly, but we're not fully being allowed into her mind. Personally, this made it all the stronger to me. As an audience, I quite enjoy feeling disoriented when dealing with mentally instable characters. It makes sense to me that you wouldn't be allowed to know it all. If you know how she thinks and how her illness works, you'll be able to figure out the consequences to actions in her surroundings. And that takes out a big load of the intensity that I get from "Kotoko". The moment we're forced to understand an illness, we're going to judge it accordingly. What Kotoko is suffering from is therefor a stranger to us, and it keeps it uncalculated.
The visual style of Shinya Tsukamoto is on top in this one. The shaky camera feels a lot more appropriate here than in "Tetsuo: The Bullet Man" (one of the things I at times found annoying in that film) because it feels part of the journey. Wherein "Tetsuo: The Bullet Man" it probably served as a modern tool to make it intense, and maybe get away with some effects. Here it's to visually present what's in her mind, it seems. The cinematography overall is great in this one. Some shots are among his best to date. A quite experimental scene towards the end where the kid toys starts to "live" and move around Kotoko is incredible. Equally great are the hallucinations, even though they are kept a lot more realistic (often violent, though).
You can rest assured that "Kotoko" offers some Shinya Tsukamoto trademark violence - quite over-the-top effects that somehow still remain realistic. It's what he does best. It's never as crazy as in the world of Tetsuo, and not as genre-bending as in "Toyko Fist". Rather it's exaggerated to make it more effective. And successfully so. The scenes of self-inflicted harm are pretty damn raw, while the scenes of a beaten Tanaka are more exaggerated. Then there's a scene towards the end that I think will work wonders with most viewers. Very strong and effective FX in "Kotoko" overall.
How can I wait until the sixth paragraph before I get into the acting of Cocco? It's not the violence nor the visuals that keeps this so intense. It's the acting of Cocco. Her intense screams are especially harrowing and can bring a chill up your spine in some scenes. You simply want her to stop, because they're so chaotic and quite frankly built a feeling of angst and panic in me. Of course, her acting isn't great only because of the screaming, but that's one thing that I think will leave everyone slightly scarred. They also use her musical expertise as a painkiller for her character, and even though this is not really a musical you can expect lots of music. In contrast to her horrific screams, her singing is slow and beautiful.
There is more to be said about "Kotoko", but I think I have to limit myself. Simply put, I really liked "Kotoko". Devastating, insane, intense and creative in a way that only Shinya Tsukamoto knows how. This is a lot more personal than many of his films, and one that I feel affects me more than most of them as well. Although it's not as good as his best work, I do think this ranks up high. Somewhere near "A Snake of June", I'd say. If you want to go through a series of tonal shifts, from depressing and sad, to violent, to semi-surreal and finally to almost comedic at times, then check it out. Shinya Tsukamoto remains on top!
Full review, as well as more reviews at: www.FilmBizarro.com
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
It Grows On You, 10 November 2012
Author: ebossert from United States
Shinya Tsukamoto directs this film about a woman with severe psychological disorders. It's evident early on that she has almost completely lost her mind because she engages in self-mutilation and hallucinates into seeing evil doppelgangers that do not exist. Tsukamoto has historically made films with somewhat bizarre yet fascinating characters and conflicts. Such is also the case here as he creates a very dangerous, uncomfortable environment for the protagonist's newborn child. The narrative becomes difficult to interpret at times, but this is well shot and oddly absorbing with a unique feel. There is some bloody violence and a few shocking scenes. This is a film that will be very divisive amongst viewers, but I found it even more impressive after a second viewing.
Provocative and Disturbing, 21 February 2013
Author: musson_films from United Kingdom
I find it sad that this provocative, challenging film has such a low rating. This is a film about a serious subject (mental illness) that is portrayed through intense visuals and expressionistic performance. The director positions you so that you feel like you are inside the characters head and its a very distressing place to be. There is strong violence and the film is very tragic but there are also moments of beauty such as when Cocco sings and dances. Yes, the camera work is very "shaky" buy the purpose is to create a realism and disorientation as experienced by the character. If the film had been shot formally it would have lost its impact. This is not a film for mainstream cinema fans. It is a challenging and artistic piece of work that deserves serious attention.
18 out of 50 people found the following review useful:
Almost unwatchable, 27 June 2012
Author: jcr22 from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
I'm not usually one to be bothered by 'shaky cam' in say Blair Witch
Project or Troll Hunter, but here the camera is constantly moving and
shaking for the entire 90 minutes, rendering the film almost
unwatchable, I had a headache at the end.
Even ignoring this, the movie is no great shakes, it's well acted, it's suitably unpleasant and there are moments of grim humour I laughed at; but the narrative is wafer thin and a lot of the movie really is nothing Takashi Miike hasn't done better half a dozen times before.
Anyway all I really wanted to say, if you dislike 'shaky cam' avoid this movie like the plague, it will make your head hurt.
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