Maborosi

on March 21, 1997 by Alex Albanese
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   An impressive feature debut for documentary director Hirokazu Kore-eda, "Maborosi" (Japanese for "mirage") is a hunting, unusual work that is almost more meditation than motion picture. Adapted from a short story by Teru Miyamoto, "Maborosi" tells the tale of Yumiko, a happy young woman with a newborn son whose husband inexplicably commits suicide one night by walking into an oncoming train. Seeking to work in the tradition of Ozu and Mizoguchi, but wanting to deal with contemporary characters and themes, Kore-eda uses a till, bold, highly regimented style of cinematic storytelling; scenes have minimal dialogue, often unfolding in a single extreme long shot. He achieves the equivalent of interior monologue without relying on voiceover by taking the audience into Yumiko's emotional mindscape through a slow, measured progression of careful images and repeated motifs.
   Though the audience always remains at a distance, both physical and emotional, from Yumiko, her sense of loss and her inner journey are made vivid by purely filmic means.    Starring Makiko Esumi, Takashi Naitoh and Tadanobu Asano. Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Written by Yoshihisa Ogita. Produced by Naoe Gozu. A Milestone release. Drama. Japanese-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 110 min.
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