Kindergarten teacher, Chinatsu is always in a state of stress. And it is at this moment that a pupil of her class is murdered. Totally distraught, Chinatsu begins to sink into a world of illusion that she can not control. (FFM)
I don’t know what they have put in the water of that city but all the characters in this movie offer a whole catalog of mental illness: Chinatsu, a kindergarten teacher, cracks under the pressure brought by all those helicopter parents and develops schizophrenia; her acupuncture doctor, Yuichi, suffers from Capgras syndrome; Naoto, a salesman bullied by his seniors, has nomophobia; Akamatsu, the convenience store clerk, suffers from Asperger; Mitsuki, Haruka’s mother, suffer from Munchausen syndrome, etc. I guess it was the purpose of the director to show with this docudrama-style movie what it is to have such illness and how difficult it can be for the families.
It is a very dark movie and the end result is, unfortunately, barely average. The storytelling is awkward and not particularly skillful, the photography feels amateurish and the acting is so-so — although, the main actress is very charming and switching the actors who plays the two Yuichi toward the end of the movie in order to unexpectedly show the schizophrenia of Chinatsu is, I must say, quite brilliant. Also, the movie is really not well served by the poor translation (in the subtitles). When I noticed two typos in the very first sentence of the movie, I knew that this would spell trouble! (unless they made it on purpose to make us feel crazy!) If it was not already obvious with the production quality, the horrible translation really smelled of tiny budget…
Finally, to really give a last pathetic impression, the absence of a translator for the Q&A at the end of the presentation (due to the minimalistic ressources of the festival this year — what? they couldn’t even find a volunteer to take up the task?) left the poor director and main actress at the mercy of their basic English language skills and made for such a laughable exchange that you could only feel sorry for them.
However, undertaking such a difficult and serious subject requires some strength. I understand what the director was trying to achieve and I greatly appreciate his efforts (for that I give him extra points!). In a society that was repressed for so long, where you find a real epidemic of bullying (both at school and at the work place, including sexual harassment) and where an aging population is plagued by various forms of dementia, it is really not surprising to find that mental illness has become a great challenge in Japan today. Kudos to the director for trying to bring attention to this problem.
Zone Out / Regarder dans le vide (アウトゾーン / Out Zone): Japan, 2017, 115 mins; Dir.: Hiroshi Kanno; Scr.: Mari Takanashi; Phot.: Makoto Hayashi; Ed.: Aya Mitsuaka; Light.: Sousuke Yoshikado; Sound: Kazuyuki Tutiya; Mus.: Magumi Masui; Cast: Minami Matsunaka (Chinatsu), Masato Oki (Yuichi Akino), Kyoko Toyama (Kyoko), Gen Kuwayama (Naoto), Yusuke Ueda (Akamatsu), Yusuke Sugiyama (Yuichi Kagawa), Ben Hori (Hisashi Aoyama).
Screened at the Cinema Imperial (Sat. 8/25 at 16:30) as part of the “World Great” program (out of competition) of the 42nd Montreal World Film Festival.
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