Tawako's boyfriend is not her kind, but she puts up with it in exchange for shelter. Her old boyfriend of almost a decade ago is long gone, and was also not nice, but like most girls she ...
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Tawako's boyfriend is not her kind, but she puts up with it in exchange for shelter. Her old boyfriend of almost a decade ago is long gone, and was also not nice, but like most girls she still reminisces about him and is attracted to his bad ways. Enter Mizushima who reminds Tawako of her old boyfriend, but soon more transpires to remind the girl of her old relationship.Written by
The film debuted at TIFF in Toronto, Canada. See more »
Lies, loneliness and murder
"Humans are lonely by nature" says one of the unappealing characters in Kazuya Shirashi's Birds Without Names, and essentially it's a struggle against loneliness that defines most of the characters in the film, and indeed it probably accounts for what makes them unappealing as well. Taking on a murder-mystery aspect, the film then becomes a question of how far each of the characters are willing to go to survive or fight against their own nature and the loneliness that lies at the heart of it.
Towako is trapped in a dead-end relationship living with Jinji. She describes Jinji to her sister as "filthy, vulgar, mean, drab, weak, timid and uncouth" and you couldn't disagree with that assessment. On the other hand, Jinji, a construction worker who is 15 years her senior, protects and cares for her, cooking, giving her money, doing everything to try to make her happy. Towako is more than a little bitter and unpleasant herself. Nasty and abusive, she still looks back on what she saw as a more idyllic relationship with Kurosaki, even though it soon becomes apparent that there was an ugly side to that relationship as well. When Towako discovers that Kurosaki has been reported missing for five years and starts to notice Jinji following her as she embarks on a new relationship with watch salesman Mizushima, she starts to have suspicions about just how far Jinji might go to keep her for himself.
There is a thriller aspect to Birds Without Names then, but the truth about what happened to Kurosaki is just another way that is more or less equivalent to Towako coming to terms with the reality of her own nature, with her loneliness, and with how she lets that affect her relationships. While that might sound simple enough, Birds Without Names takes into consideration that this characteristic is not solely the condition of Towako, but also Jinji and even Mizushima, and the combined force and desperation of each of those conflicting needs creates a more complex matrix of emotions.
The film's darker exploration of loneliness, jealousy and abusiveness in relationships could potentially make this unpleasant and uncomfortable viewing, but there are two outstanding performances from Yu Aoi and Sadao Abe that fully support the director's aim to not just depict such characteristics in unflinching detail, or indeed to solve a murder-mystery, but to explore the very real and imperfect human drives that lie behind such actions.
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