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Maborosi

Milestone // Unrated // July 10, 2018
List Price: $29.76 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 29, 2018 | E-mail the Author



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Maborosi Blu-ray Review


Maborosi
is the debut
feature film from acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Nobody
Knows
, Still Walking). The film is done
in the same style
of legendary Japanese filmmaker Ozu. It's a quiet meditation on its
characters. Executive produced by Yutaka Shigenobu (Air Doll,
Still Walking), Maborosi is a
film that will divide
most audiences with its slow narrative and minimalist storytelling.


The film
explores the life of
a young woman, Yumiko (Makiko Esumi), who lost her grandmother as a
child and whose first husband commits suicide for an unknown reason.
She struggles with grief over her memories of her lost grandmother
and of her recently departed husband. She does eventually find
romance again and gets a new husband, Tamio. She tries to overcome
her grief and find solace in her life again while pondering her
life's experiences and the journey she has taken.


The
film
is a rather quiet, solemn, and lyrical examination of the main
character's grief and struggles. The film doesn't have much plot at
all. Character development is also minimal at best. The film does not
aim to tell a straightforward narrative. Rather, the focus on the
filmmaking is on the director's framing and the cinematography by
Masao Nakabori (Silver Mask).


Some
audiences might find the film to be meditative in its style. Others
will feel like tearing their hair out by the end with the glacial
slow pace. This film is neither great artistically nor a disastrous
effort. It's the debut of a director who has become well established
for his deliberate slow style but the film lacks a great narrative to
accompany the artistic threads of the director's artistic vision.


Based
upon the novel written by Teru Miyamoto, the screenplay written by
Yoshihisa Ogita (Hazan) is not the focus here. The
story is
about grief but the film lacks the kind of personal insights you
would want for such narrative. It doesn't feel genuine in the way
that it should given difficult subject matter. Grief is a difficult
subject to tackle in a film and this film's script feels
disingenuous.


The
music
score by Ming-chang Chen (The Puppetmaster, Ripples
of
Desire
) is almost unnoticeable in the background. It neither
adds
or detracts much from this filmmakers vision or experience. The
production design work done by Kyoko Heya (Battle Royale,
Shall We Dance?) is impressive for the film's modest
production budget. The location scouting was clearly effective as the
sets and layout work well. Costumes designed by Michiko Kitamura
(Ichi the Killer, Casshern) are
also artfully done and
feel suited to the characters.


Hirokazu
Kore-eda's Maborosi isn't for everyone. The film
feels more
like a series of artistically framed photographs being played out in
slow motion than a feature with a narrative. The film is unsuccessful
as fully exploring the depth of the grief of Yumiko. Maborosi
would have been a better film had it delved into the genuine
emotional toll of losing family by suicide more. Such a serious topic
should have had more narrative to accompany it. While the film does
explore the topic of grief this is a film which feels too focused on
the aesthetics of each shot and frame and less on the emotional core
of the lead character's pain.


The Blu-ray:




Video:


Presented
on Blu-ray in 1080p
high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the
original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. This is a
solid if unspectacular presentation. In terms of reproducing the
film's cinematography this is a faithful release that succeeds at
presenting the material as well as it can be. However, the film's
soft cinematography makes this a less sharp release. It isn't as
impressive as one might hope for but it's also a modest budget
Japanese production and is most likely the best release the film will
ever see. Taking that element into consideration, the release is
still worth a look for those interested.


Audio:


Maborosi
is presented
with lossless 16 bit audio. The audio preserves the original sound
design with uncompressed PCM stereo audio. This is an average
sounding mix with little to no activity even for a front-based
surround presentation. The music score has a minimalist backdrop to
the film. Dialogue is sparingly used in the film and when it does it
is rather soft in reproduction, though it can still be easily
understood. The film lacks a high-def audio presentation without
having 24 bit depth but is acceptable overall.


English
subtitles are
included (and can be turned on/off). There were no issues with
grammar or spelling.




Extras:


Audio
Commentary
with
film scholar Linda Ehrlich


Birthplace:
Makiko Esumi

(30 min.) is a documentary exploring the history of location scouting
for the film's production. The lead actress of the film returns to
the locations used during the film's production (including an old
abandoned home which was discovered and remodeled for the film's
primary location). Actress Makiko Esumi reminiscences on the making
of the film and the experience of being a part of it. Subtitled in
English.


Final Thoughts:


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-weight: normal; line-height: 100%;"
align="left">
Maborosi is a disappointing film. It lacks the kind
of
emotional depth needed for this type of story. Director Hirokazu
Kore-eda is too preoccupied with visual aesthetics. The Blu-ray release
is a modest presentation. There are some interesting
supplemental features included to round out the package.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-weight: normal; line-height: 100%;"
align="left">
Rent It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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