23 July 2020 | samxxxul
A Moving art that appeals to both heart and mind
This poignant coming of age drama about the grief that marital unrest can cause a child is an early masterpiece by late Shinji Somai (Sailor Suit and Machine Gun) whose career was over almost before it began. 'Moving' is not free from sentiment and melodrama, but luckily doesn't put it too thickly. Instead, he underscores the human drama, backed by an excellent cast, with little Renko leading the way. Although this is one of Somei's unusual works, he shows all his virtuosity here with a number of beautifully filmed scenes and towards the end the film becomes more surreal. It's also a grand visual spectacle (Toyomichi Kurita's cinematography is dreamy and captures fully all the wonder of Eri Yamamoto's art direction); in this case, this is doubly important, given how symbolic this work is. In addition, it may be the only live-action film that seems to have both been inspired by the work of Ghibli Studios (particularly Isao Takahata's Only Yesterday, Chie the Brat and provided a source of inspiration in return (to Hayoa Miyazaki's Spirited Away). Based on the novel "Ohikkoshi", by Hiko Tanaka, the film revolves around Renko, a girl in the sixth grade (between 11 and 12 years old) whose parents' divorce shutters her happy but fragile life. The subject of divorce and its profound impact on the child, and the fluctuations realistically and spontaneously, up to her inner feelings, which is told through a child's eye perspective and translated in a charming visual language.
As well, there is a wealth of wonderful moments: among my favorites - Renko's rant with her mom, when Renko moonwalked and howled at the moon! Perhaps my favorite scene is near the end during the carnival in the beach. It is that it is charming without being cheap or smarmy. The unpretentious manner in which the story is told is such a joyful antidote to the average Hollywood film. This drama delights with it's simplicity, allowing the drama to come to us in an unhurried telling and I think 'Moving' is more successful as a mood piece than as narrative. There's a stream-of-consciousness quality here - appropriately so; that could very well be the intent. Moving by Somai Shinji (1993) is it the most beautiful Japanese film of its decade even though there is The Labyrinth of Dreams, Yumeji, April Story, Sonatine or even Eureka during this period.
It is truly exquisite, way up there with Xhanfise Keko's Tomka and His Friends (1977), Vittorio De Sica's The Children Are Watching Us (1944), François Truffaut's 400 Blows (1959), Lasse Hallström's My Life as a Dog (1985), Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander (1982), Yuan Zhang's Little Red Flowers (2006) Edward Yang's Yi Yi (200), Carlos Saura's Cria Cuervos (1976) and Jacques Doillon's Ponette (1996).
. A true timeless masterpiece that has never ceased to be emulated, It is one of the real hidden treasures of Japanese cinema compared to Ghibli. It is so little recognized that doesn't even have DECENT votes on IMDB. Mandatory for every lover of cinema, something which should be highly prized.