Sunday 8 June 2008

Bright Future (2003)

Any excuse to watch a Tadanobu Asano movie is alright by me and here he is again in a Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie. He's always a chameleon and this time out he's a grungy Tadanobu Asano, playing a slacker called Mamoru Arita. He wears very cool patchwork clothes and a long black jacket and breezes through life on autopilot. Like most slackers he can't seem to stick with anything, so whatever we discover about him early on doesn't last too long. He works at some sort of manufacturing plant with his friend Nimura, who doesn't do much except dream, and he keeps a poisonous jellyfish, which he has been acclimatising to fresh water. Before long though he gives his jellyfish to Nimura and quits his job, breezing off into the night.

Much of this seems to be keyed around his boss at the plant, who seems to be very generous but at the same time invades their lives. It turns out that Mamoru's final act before leaving is to murder his boss and his wife in cold blood. So just as we get used to who the characters are, they all shift around again. Now Mamoru is locked up and facing a potential death penalty for his actions and left behind trying to work out what happened are Nimura and Mamoru's father, who hasn't seen him in five years. They seem to bond in a strange way, perhaps Mamoru's father seeing a second chance for himself in Nimura.

And floating through all the strands of plot, if this can be called a plot, is the jellyfish, which Nimura has let escape into the local water system and promptly multiplies. I'm not sure precisely what this is supposed to mean but it's obviously key to whatever writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa wanted to tell us. Obviously it has something to do with direction and focus but beyond that I haven't a clue. Does it have to do with slacker Mamoru finding his way forward through a transspecies parallel? Or is it all about Nimura being able to find a different answer when faced with a question of life or death? Or just a message to slackers: doing anything is better than doing nothing? Whatever it is, I don't get it. It's bizarrely watchable but I wouldn't mind finding an reading of that actually rings true.

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