Tuesday, 10 August 2010



is a Japanese film directed in 2000 by Shinji Aoyama. One thing to take into consideration: 3 hours 27 minutes. That's how long this film is.

It's surprising how little I feel I'm capable of writing about such a long film.

A bus is hijacked. 3 people survive: the driver, a school girl, and her older brother. They all suffer trauma, something we don't see. We see the aftermath. The 2 children somehow end up living at their home alone. The father's divorced, and then dies in a car crash. Don't know why the mother didn't come back, didn't wonder when I was watching the film because the only chance I had to understand this plot seemed to be patience. The ex-bus driver moves in with the children, and decides to live with them. The children have become mutes. The acting is very convincing in that sense. After at least 50% of the film and after the college student cousin of the children moves in and the ex-bus driver gets into a spot of bother*, they all go on a long road trip.. on a bus, around south-west Japan. I need to emphasise that prior to this the film would probably have most viewers abandon it. Even the aforementioned "spot of bother*" won't be a light for the audience in this long, dark tunnel.. there's nothing to illuminate. Not yet, anyway.

The plot really isn't significant to what the film itself entails visually. Unless you're going to read very deeply into the drama to be frank you're likely to suffer lapses of boredom. There's very little discussion about the whole event of the bus hijacking at all. It's shot in sepia tone (black and white with a brown tinge), but I'm starting to think towards the latter half of the film there was colour; perhaps in a metaphorical sense.

>In this drama film that lasts 3.5hrs there is very little dialogue, and very little enjoyment to be found for such patience. A lot of the scenes up until they go on this bus journey are a waste of time. There's nothing moving about them. There's nothing meaningful. They don't invoke any emotion. They're extremely bland. When it comes to cinematography, the film really isn't special at all. It seems to employ more freedom with the camera during the road-trip scenes. Nothing will stand out and entice you to stay. I now want to explain why I continued.

You will find that all of your patience is justified! But only partially. Perhaps the length of the film and lack of anything I accomplished watching it for hours may force me to scrounge for anything of worth here. I found myself quite drawn towards the ex-bus driver, who really gives this film a triumph of character. I couldn't quit watching the film and leave him. I was part of the family too. His relationship with the children and with their cousin just seemed so genuine. It actually had me feeling like every family-oriented relationship that I've witnessed in films is a farce, and the hours of endurance were finally starting to serve a purpose.. somewhat. This is more than likely because the majority of this "family unit" portrayed in the film were a group of people all banded together because of a common... Forget it. Trying to make any explanations or justifying anything that happens in this film just doesn't work. Trauma is the only valid word.

To conclude, a very interesting take on drama, and you will need a very strong perseverance needed to watch this. Australian TV aired this in 2 parts. Don't expect to be directly rewarded. Even the end scenes aren't the sort of "beauty" you would expect to find in dramas. It's a very subtle and delicate beauty, something that doesn't try to be profound at all.: the relationship doesn't suddenly want to make the audience be all soppy and start feeling emotional, they don't start hugging each other and cry on each others shoulders. They're still completely distraught. The plot wants to make you believe it offers something more substantial, but it's all be done before, but this film does it differently by not showing you that at all... or not showing you anything, you could argue.

Some say this film definitely has mistaken length for depth. It's going to be a very hard gruelling experience for any reviewer having to watch this if the film isn't working for them.

There's never been a release in the U.S. on DVD or VHS. Wonder why?

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