Gûzen to sôzô
starring Kotone Furukawa, Ayumu Nakajima, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Katsuki Mori, Fusako Urabe, Aoba Kawai
written and directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi
by Walter Chaw Ryusuke Hamaguchi listens well. His films may be indicated by the denseness of their dialogue, their patience in allowing their characters to speak it, and his trust in his actors to do unbroken takes and in his audience to go along for the ride, but what enchants about them is how carefully they hear what their characters are saying, and how they invite us to do the same. At some point during each of Hamaguchi's films, I've found myself leaning in--not because the mix is too low, but because I'm socially conditioned to lean towards a speaker when they're saying something that's at once difficult for them to say and imperative that they say it. I'm giving these characters eye contact and attention. Hamaguchi's movies are a form of communion--that is to say, a connection that touches on profundity. Given their intimacy and wisdom, they hold within them the capacity to rip my guts out. Which they do, remorselessly and sweetly. Does that describe the concept of "winsome"? In "Magic," the first of the three short films that comprise Hamaguchi's Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, beautiful Tsugumi (Hyunri), in the back of a long cab ride with her friend Meiko (Kotone Furukawa), describes a platonic first date in which she and her partner "caress" each other with their words. Not "talk dirty," she clarifies--getting to know the other person by telling the truth when lies are expected. Through Tsugumi, Hamaguchi is talking about his process.