9 May 2009 | jameselliot-1
The king of super-cool
Ryo Ikebe is perfect as the super-cool, sharply dressed ex-con who willingly seals his own fate despite his obvious intelligence and powers of perception. His body language is crisp and economical and his life experience is etched into his face. He is the Japanese doppleganger of the under-appreciated (except by Tarrantino) American actor Robert Forster. This is actually worthy of a remake starring Forster but I heavily doubt if any filmmaker can recreate the style and panache that Mr. Shinoda injected into every shot of the astonishing cinematography. In an interview on the DVD extra, he says that nihilism was his main theme but it's a quiet, shadow-covered nihilism, not explosive and bombastic. There are very few scenes of violence; action is not the show here. The heart of the film is the undefinable relationship between the adrenaline-loving rich girl and the yakuza hit man. Shinoda likens his position in life as the embodiment of post-war Japan caught between the Soviet Union and the USA. The climactic hit is brilliantly choreographed, shot and scored. Certain elements of Pale Flower evoked memories of The Face of Another, a totally different type of film that also explored the existential subjects of solitude, isolation and alienation.