Kemonomichi (2017)

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Kemonomichi: Directed by Eiji Uchida. With Sairi Itô, Kenta Suga, Kaito Yoshimura, Hidenobu Abera. Born in a regional city, a young girl named Ai (Sairi Ito) is sent to a cult commune by her religious maniac mother and lives there for seven long years. After the cult is exposed by the police, Ai starts a new, normal life going to a regular middle school, but can’t find a place to fit in normal society. Ai drops out to continue finding her path in life, first living with a rock-bottom delinquent family, then moving on to be part of a middle-class family, all along trying to find her place in this world. The only person who understands Ai is Ryota (Kenta Suga), another drop-out and cast-off from society. Ryota finds his path in a shady world of delinquents while Ai ends up working in the sex industry. Two teens’ purity gets swallowed up by the urban jungle of a big regional city. A black comedy depicting lives of modern youth and their struggles in a place where there is no way out.

“Another extraordinary film from director Eiji Uchida. Full of power, energy, a kaeledoscope of colours and showing great confidence with well composed scenes with complicated action this is just as, maybe more so, crazy than the earlier Greatful Dead. Easier to enjoy if not fully understand, this seems to once again be about the real struggle in Japan for youngsters to find a transition from school to employment and society in general. In my visits to the county I have seen nothing to suggest rebellion on the scale shown here but the reality gap between the young now and the old, seemingly unchanged, for many, many years is palpable in certain spots where youth culture is challenging the existing order. Sairi Ito is impressive as the irrepressible youngster trying all sorts of ways to conform as best she can and Kenta Suga her well played counterpart. Stylish, violent, sexy and pertinent but not easy for a non-Japanese to get all the nuances that I am sure are present amidst the seeming mayhem of this uncompromising picture.”

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