Review: ‘Fatherless’

“Fatherless” is a genuinely eerie docu about a 22-year-old bisexual who goes in search of the father who abandoned him when he was a child. Though the pic was billed at 90 minutes, its actual length was considerably shorter, which may account for some unexplained gaps in recounting the disturbing history of Masaya Muraishi.

Struggling to understand his past and his identity, Masaya wanders the streets of Tokyo looking to score with middle-aged men. When he’s not cruising dark alleys, he’s playing hooky from film school, spending hours in his apartment cutting his chest with a knife until blood runs down his torso. Self-laceration, Masaya explains in voiceover, is the only way he can feel the pain that confirms he’s alive. Masaya also spends time with his mother, a recovering alcoholic, whom he adores, and stepfather, to whom he never felt close. When he finally tracks down his biological father, the man offers little in the way of apology or explanation and repeatedly demands that the camera keep a distance. With the total access Masaya allows his film school buddies Yoshihisa Shigeno and Takashi Soga to record his story, “Fatherless” is a riveting film.




A Japanese Academy of Moving Images production. Produced by Tetsuo Yamatani. Directed by Yoshihisa Shigeno.


Camera (color), Takashi Soga; editor, Taiki Saito; music, Tomohiro Hosayama. Reviewed at Sarajevo Film Festival (New Currents -- competing) Aug. 24, 1999. Original title: Titinaki-Jidai. Running time: 44 MIN.


Masaya Muraishi.
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