Early Spring, Sakurajima

“Takashi Arimura had been working in Kyoto. Now that he’s reached the age of retirement he’s returned to his hometown, document.write(“”); Kagoshima. A beautiful city with a volcano overlooking it, but the vista can’t make up for the fact that life in retirement is depressing. With the encouragement of his wife, Kyoko, he takes up a new hobby — drawing. He picks a paintbrush for the first time. The world now looks very different. He now has a goal in life. Can he reach it?”
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(Text from the
Festival’s program)


WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

This movie shows us the boring life of a retired elderly couple. With her husband’s retirement money, Kyoko can finally open her own very small movie theatre. And Takashi can start to paint again, but he feels unhappy and thinks he has no talent. Life seems not worth living and he feels like just killing time before death. He meets a fortune teller who somehow predicts him better days and encourages him to be more optimistic.

He finds a new fascination for the Sakurajima island and its active volcano, so he starts making many trips there to paint the volcano. He submit his painting for a local exposition but it is not selected. However, he has found a new joy and feels life is worth living again.

The movie was shot in cinéma-vérité style with very little dialogue and some weird angle shots. The pace is so slow that the story doesn’t seem to progress at all sometimes. The movie seems excruciatingly long despite that it’s only eighty-eight minutes long! The photography is good and gives us the opportunity to see the beautiful countryside of Sakurajima as well as the rather ordinary cityscape of Kagoshima. It represents the image of the real, everyday Japan which is somewhat rather refreshing.

Despite its shortcomings, the movie offer an interesting subject. More and more Japanese are living longer to enjoy their retirement, even on a merger revenue (this couple didn’t seem rich at all since they live very simply, in a very small house and his clothing have many patches). They must find hobbies to make their retiring enjoyable.

Early Spring, Sakurajima (???? / Sakurajima soyun / Sakurajima early spring): Japan, 2015, 88 min.; Dir./Scr./Ed.: Hiroshi Toda: Phot.: Guillaume Tauveron, Hiroshi Toda; Music: Mica Toda; Cast: Yoichi Hayashi, Hitomi Wakahara, Kenkichi Nishi, Katsuhiko Nishi.

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 30th, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 16, 16h00 – the theatre was half full) as part of the “Focus on World Cinema” segment.

For more information you can visit the following websites:
Early Spring, Sakurajima © 2015 Skeleton Films.

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