OKINAWA’S UTOPIA

nirai2

 

Okinawa is part of Japan without being really “Japanese”: six months of humid summer, an inscrutable dialect and a much more relaxed life-style, only shaken by political disturbances due to the American bases. スリーポイント Three points shows some of these issues with its Okinawan subtitled stories of a bare-handed giant crab hunter, cases of families coming from mainland and interviews to American soldiers and locals.

The greenish and glittering images are shared with another Okinawa-related movie, ニライカナイからの手紙 Nirai Kanai kara no Tegami. The title refers to a legend about an utopian place in the ocean to the East, whose seabed is home to the Gods, who sometimes make a fortunate or unfortunate visit to mortals on the islands. This is a more commercial but achieved film with a convincing Aoi Yu as protagonist: a mother must abandon her small Okinawan island for Tokyo and leaves behind with her aging father a little girl, who emotionally survives through short but moving letters arriving every year on the day of her birthday. I must admit that I was deceived by an apparently gruesome story in the line of Takeshi Kitano’s 菊次郎の夏Kikujiro’s summer, or Hirokazu Koreeda’s 誰も知らない Nobody knows, and took me more than one hour to understand the similarities in the plot with My life without me by Spanish director Isabel Coixet. In general it’s an entertaining and technically spotless film, except for the last 10 minutes, which look more like a tear-jerking torture that a good conclusion to a well presented story.

The other 2 points from the former movie are Kyoto and Tokyo. Under the surface of a conservative and traditional city, another documentary-like filming shows the hip-hop scene’s underdogs with a seasoning of violence, drugs and even extortion. Japan’s capital is a city of slick office ladies, チンピラ chimpiras (punks, delinquent to be) and people with a past: by accident, two mentally unstable persons get emotionally involved in the game of incarnating one another’s relatives.

At ニライカナイ Tokyo represents a provincial girl’s dream of becoming a famous photographer. And eventually she does, but, to cite Israeli author Amos Oz, “all dreams end up in a letdown because any dream is spoiled the very first moment that it becomes true”; and Okinawa is, once again, the longed-for paradise.

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