Melancholic (2018) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
4 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
An ecclectic mix of genres may surprise you
neunomad26 October 2019
Last night I went to the Japanese Film Festival and saw this one on the big screen. The movie is every bit as quirky and oddball as the blurb makes it sound - a university graduate, Kazuhiko, lives with his parents and is suffering from a bad case of ennui. He finds part-time employment in the local bathhouse, which he soon discovers is used by Yakuza for executions. He becomes entangled in disposing of the bodies, whilst at the same time finding an opportunity for love with a former classmate (who happens to be equally as oddball as Kazuhiko).

It sounds like it should be overly dark, but it's actually quite light and somewhat whimsical in a Japanesey way. The movie turns out to be a strange mix of coming of age tale and crime thriller. There is violence, but it is not the main attraction here, and is not overdone or gory. What the film is concerned with is why we are driven to do what we do in life. Why is Kazuhiko so fascinated with gangland executions? Why is he so eager to be useful in this new line of work? Why has he done nothing with this life since graduating from Tokyo University (which means a lot in Japan)? Why is this or that person being killed by the yakuza?

If you're interested in that kind of inner-dialogue, AND you don't mind something out of the ordinary, give this movie a chance. In my screening there was definitely a handful of people that were not 'getting it' and were confused by the movie. I think they had expectations that were not fulfilled, and this movie does the opposite, it gives you what you don't expect. A bit like life.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good Idea, poorly done.
spinova26 September 2020
Newbie director/writer came with an splendid and fresh idea but he served it raw. What a shame! Actors played well their parts but the screenplay is shy developed and no ambition in directing either. It has nothing to do with the low budget/independent kind of movie this is. It's just, it needed condiments and a fancy plates.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Dark and charming at the same time - interesting mix
mister_bateman21 September 2020
This unemployed typical japanese shy guy starts working at a neighborhood bathhouse, after running into an old female classmate there. Turns out the place also serves as a yakuza killhouse at night. From here on we get an interesting combination of something reminiscent of the TV show Dexter and a romance/comedy. While the subject matters is a little dark, it's quite a mellow and warm movie and the characters are all quite likeable. I enjoyed it.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
politic198329 September 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Despite its somewhat depressing name, Seiji Tanaka's directorial debut "Melancholic" sometimes feels anything but, with moments of action and humour, but is a film with a nice, quiet, calm sense of fun throughout.

Kazuhiko (also novice Yoji Minagawa) is a graduate from a prestigious university but who has spent his time since graduating in a bit of a slump. Not searching for a job in any great hurry, he lives at his parents' home like a moody teenager, so much so, that when his mother releases the bath water, not realising he hasn't yet had a bath, she insists he visit the local bathhouse for a trip that will change the course of his life...somewhat.

While there, he bumps into an old classmate in Yuri (Mebuki Yoshida) who seems genuinely pleased to see him after so many years. A man who rides on the waves of others, Kazuhiko is bought in by her suggestions that he joins an upcoming school reunion and takes the advertised job at the bathhouse. The moody 'teenager' now has a job and a girlfriend.

Employed without much of an interview process, he works alongside boss Higashi (Makoto Hada), the enigmatic older Kodera (Yasuyuki Hamaya) and slacker Matsumoto (Yoshitomo Isozaki). Diligent at his tasks, he feels that he is somewhat different to his fellow workers, so snooping round after closing, he finds Kodera is a hitman working through Higashi, with Matsumoto's help. While initially appalled, Kazuhiko's solemnity sees him quickly accept his new role in helping to clean up the blood after. He is now part of the nightshift.

Kazuhiko is something of a comedy character, one whom Tanaka is laughing at. Despite his education, he is fairly useless and is in no hurry to change his dull existence, in very much the mould of a character from a Natsume Soseki novel. Change is brought about by accident and chance, with others guiding him or moving him around as they see fit. So meek is he, that he simply goes along with even the most absurd or dangerous a scenario as if part of a choose your own adventure novel. In this sense, Kazuhiko is something of a sad character, but Tanaka makes him amuse.

With the other characters only given a little airtime for development, this sense of poking fun at Kazuhiko as he takes on the role of hitman's assistant makes for an entertaining watch that is easy to slip into. Despite the theme of murder and the violence depicted, it almost leaves you quite calm, and this isn't an unwelcome feeling. Perhaps due to Tanaka's very simple approach to the story, characters and locations, never overbearing in what it throws your way.

Though, that said, when there is action, it is actually well choreographed and shot, with Matsumoto a natural to take over Kodera's role. But the action is quite sparse, and so this is far from a thrilling ride to its conclusion.

The ending is perhaps the film's most inconsistent moment, with Kazuhiko forced to finally do something of his own accord, but it all feels a little too casual for such a big leap, with Kazuhiko losing his charm as the hapless fool.

But, rather than a feeling of melancholy, with "Melancholic" Tanaka uses Kazuhiko to manifest the sense of "shouganai" ("it can't be helped"). Despite the dangerous and terrifying scenario Kazuhiko finds himself in, he simply slips into it as if it's natural and does little to put up any resistance: he is now a hitman's assistant and there's nothing he can do about it. Trying to advance himself with his education got him nowhere, but fate had a lot to do with where he found himself.

Having to accept a bad situation can be a little depressing, but you have to laugh, hey?!...after over six months stuck working from home every day...
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed