RIVER’S EDGE (2019)

river

Directed By: Isao Yukisada
Written By: Misaki Setoyama
Based on the Manga By: Kyoko Okazaki
Cinematography: Kenji Maki
Editor: Tsuyoshi Imai 


Cast: Fumi Nikiado, Ryu Yoshizawa, Aoi Morikawa, Shuhei Uesugi, Sumire 


Haruna is a high school student whose, school-mates, school and life is topsy turvy and often tragic. One of her classmates is the homosexual Ichiro. The boy is often bullied, derided and beaten. He has the scars to show for it. Haruna stands by Ichiro’s side and comes to know Ichiro’s secret. Then they discover a corpse by a river beside the tall grass.

Though it has a Similar story as the 1980’s American movie of the same title this film is it’s own animal.

This is a film that took me totally by surprise. As I knew a little of what it was about, but slowly blew my mind and I had a very emotional reaction to the film and was left kind of devastated. Don’t known if a lot of viewers will feel the same way. As for some audience members might find it dull. I advise just hang in there and give it a chance.

The film seems unapologetic in it’s depiction of teen life though not as exciting as most teen films. it moves at a slow pace And exposes each of the characters feeling of alienation even in just their position in the frames.

As they all revolve around one another and kind of become friends temporarily or at least make a bond.

Though like all teenagers and drama it takes itself so seriously and tries to find meaning when sometimes there is none. Exploring little things and blowing them up. Though the film has a kind of wicked sense of humor not necessarily played for laughs. where one character keeps being left for dead only to keep coming back to life.

The dynamics are interesting where as we be character is a bully and rough and tough but reaches a point that he believes there is no return from. Where he acts lien a baby practically while all the other characters treat it more as matter of Fact and not truly a big deal. Which only adds to the films Disturbing and unsettling tone.

We Only know it is set in the 90’s because of apparent lack of technology and cellphones. That one doesn’t even notice until the middle of the film when you wonder why they keep using pay phones and landlines.

The film is Extremely depressing though the characters seem aimless even in their confessionals which you can see through some of their answers that they are not being truthful to themselves. It also leaves you hanging as to the fates of some characters.

The more graphic scenes seem there to shock or liven up the proceedings. as they are the only ones of actions and where there might be some excitement. Plus gives the film the element of sex, drugs and violence.

It never seems to allow any light or simple or even humorous moments so that it stays serious and dramatic all the time. Which leaves it to be at times draining until the end where it feels more like anything can happen as it becomes so tense and unpredictable. Yet almost lives up to the similarly titled America film which is about a bunch of teenagers who find out one of their friends killed his girlfriend and other one of their friends and most of them react with her loyalty to the killer or a kind of ambivilance and that film explores the ones who actually do feel something their fight with themselves to do something and also gives us a peek at their community, lives and upbringing that gives hints to their generational malaise.

The film’s message seems to be that the People in life who try to act normal are the ones with problems the ones who seem to show signs of trouble seem indifferent to the problems of the world as they have been though true pain and are used to it the survivors. The ones who aren’t Deal with it more pain stakingly

Though through it all the female lead seems more indifferent to everything she seems to bind with both types and keeps her face fake and stoic. While also having conflicting feelings that by the end are revealed as to feeling nothing and Either way life goes on.

After realizing who they are the more downtrodden characters pass though life like ghosts. No real engagement or commentary they just exist and take whatever comes at them with an indifference.

Here it is not as simple but similarly themed. As the film plays more like a town poem above all else.

Grade: A-

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