6 September 2016



This is a marvellous film from one of Japan's most acclaimed directors, Takeshi Kitano or 'Beat' Takeshi as he's otherwise known from his days on the Japanese comedy club circuit in the 1980s.

He's famous for his deadpan facial expressions while acting, and it's obvious that he's instructed his actors and actresses to take that approach too (successfully, I might add!) in this sort of drama-and-romantic- comedy combined.

Takeshi uses a kind of 'show, not tell' method of storytelling, in that he assumes a certain level of intelligence on the part of the viewer and never insults this intelligence by hitting people over the head with what's going on at any given moment. I like that non-heavy-handed approach and find it refreshing, if I may say so. Takeshi's the thinking person's director, haha. Let's have a peep at the plot of this humorous tearjerker.

Shigeru is an attractive curly-haired young Japanese garbage man. He and his girlfriend Takako are both deaf, so this is a quiet, peaceful film containing only the minimum of dialogue. There aren't any gangsters or cops in it, either, by the way, both of which appear frequently in Takeshi's other films.

Takeshi doesn't act in this film like he does in some of his others, which was disappointing. I kept hoping he'd pop up briefly, even, in an Alfred Hitchcock-style cameo, but no dice, sadly.

Anyway, we get the distinct impression that Shigeru and Takako live a very quiet life together. Even if Shigeru weren't deaf, I absolutely bet that he still wouldn't say a whole lot and he still wouldn't consult his girlfriend or even ask for her opinion before he made any half-assed decisions or went off half-baked on a wild goose chase.

I'm not saying that he does all that in this film, but he definitely does his own thing, whatever that might be, and if Takako wants to tag along, she can (always walking several paces behind him, of course!, but if she doesn't want to, then he doesn't much mind either way. And she's supposed to be his fiancée and everything. That was one aspect of Shigeru's character I wasn't crazy about. Guys like that drive me nuts. I'll tell you straight, I can't be doing with 'em...!

Any-hoo, one day, doing his rounds on the bins as usual, Shigeru finds an old broken surfboard that someone's abandoned. Without consulting Takako, he brings it home, cleans it up and takes it down to the nearby beach for a surf, while poor Takako sits quietly watching him, folding and minding his clothes for him. Folding and minding his clothes for him...?

Jaysis, I wonder if all Japanese women are so devoted to their menfolk...? No offence to Japanese women, but Takako is a total doormat. I kind of wished she'd show some gumption and tell Shigeru that she wasn't going to put up with his s**t and his selfishness anymore.

After a period of adjustment to the world of surfing, during which he's a bit of a joke to the local surfing community, Shigeru starts to get good at it. It's all the hours of practice while his bird gets a numb butt sitting on the sand waiting for him to finish. 

He acquires a fancy wetsuit from the owner of a sports shop, a guy who used to be a surfing legend himself. Shigeru starts entering surfing competitions. The world's his oyster now. Or is it...?

The two leads have the deadpan thing down to a fine art. Mind you, they were directed by the master of deadpan himself, the wonderful Beat Takeshi, so it's no wonder they do it so well. Takako is definitely devoted to Shigeru and seems to have no life outside of him, but it's doubtful whether Shigeru would choose Takako over his surfboard if he ever had to choose.

Surfing isn't a sport I would ever have had the remotest interest in before (although I'd picked up a fair bit about it from popular Australian soap HOME AND AWAY, the soap which gave Thor, aka the ravishingly handsome Chris Hemsworth, his big acting break) but I did enjoy this beautiful film with its gorgeous musical score and panoramic views of endless calm blue oceans and blue, blue skies.

The two lads who decide to take up surfing when they see Shigeru doing it are hilarious. They have to share first one surfboard and then one wetsuit between them while the other 'cool' surfers and their surfer groupies laugh at them. It's apparently dog-eat-dog in the cut-throat surfing world...!

This expertly directed blend of tragedy and comedy is out on Blu-Ray on September 12th 2016, courtesy of Third Window films. It's actually the first time that the film has been available on Blu-Ray anywhere in the world and the first 1,000 copies sold will feature a limited edition cardboard slipcase with new illustrated artwork by Marie Bergeron.

Even without that as an incentive, the film is still well worth buying. Do it for the genius that is Takeshi Kitano. With your money, he could finally afford that new ivory backscratcher...! That's a 'Mr. Burns' joke from THE SIMPSONS, by the way. Mr. Kitano definitely did not authorise me to say that. I'm sure he has all the money he could ever possibly need for ivory backscratchers...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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