The magic of the cello, the mystery of the Book of Revelations and the pleasures of shoplifting intersect in "7/25," an off-the-wall low-budget art film from first-time Japanese helmer Wataru Hayakawa.

The magic of the cello, the mystery of the Book of Revelations and the pleasures of shoplifting intersect in “7/25,” an off-the-wall low-budget art film from first-time Japanese helmer Wataru Hayakawa. The different elements fail to tie together in any meaningful way, resulting in a pic that is irritatingly pretentious and suffocatingly abstruse. Hindered by a cryptic title and rough 16mm lensing, Hayakawa seems to have crafted a film with little possibility of reaching many viewers.

Fumihisa (Isamu Hyuga) is a botanist living in a forest in northern Japan who is confronted with an ethical dilemma when a friend sends over a maker of musical instruments, Meiko (Mihoko Umetsu), who wants to use the bark from a rare maple tree to make a Stradivarius-like cello.

Meanwhile, in the city, a detective, Hazuki (Junya Nakano), is hired by a discount store to try to catch a woman, Sazanami (Risa Miyanaga), who shoplifts small items from the store on the 25th of each month. After the detective blows the sting operation designed to catch the strange shoplifter, he quits his job, only to bump into the woman in the midst of a service at the church in his hometown. This is where the Book of Revelations rears its apocalyptic head.

Hazuki follows Sazanami to a studio apartment, and, just when the plot is threatening to make sense, a mysterious cello arrives by courier at the door of the studio.

Helmer Hayakawa and script-writer Maho Arakida are perhaps making a convoluted comment about modern society, the power of music and the preservation of the environment, but most auds will simply be left scratching their heads.

Lensing is undistinguished, while score features an odd blend of frantic electro tunes and mournful cello music. Thesps are severely restricted by introverted tone of the material.

Title refers to July 25, a significant date in one way or another for virtually everyone in the film.

7/25

Japanese

Production

A Palmyla Moon production. (International sales: Gold View Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Yukari Hatano. Directed by Wataru Hayakawa. Screenplay, Maho Arakida.

Crew

Camera (color), Tadanori Kunimatsu; editor, Wataru Hayakawa; music, Takashi Watanabe; sound, Masami Fukuoka. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Intl. Critics Week), May 17, 1999. Running time: 67 MIN.

With

Fumihisa Teruya - Isamu Hyuga Meiko Toriumi - Mihoko Umetsu Hazuki - Junya Nakano Sazanami - Risa Miyanaga
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