World’s End/Girl Friend

Love takes a circuitous route and several wrong turns in "World's End/Girl Friend," another low-budget, low-drama contribution to the stockpile of Japanese slacker pics. Helmer Shiori Kazama continues exploring the same kind of relationships as in her previous "The Mars Canon" and "How Old Is the River."

With:
With: Mami Nakamura, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Keishi Nakatsuka, Seiichi Tanabe.

Love takes a circuitous route and several wrong turns in “World’s End/Girl Friend,” another low-budget, low-drama contribution to the stockpile of Japanese slacker pics. Helmer Shiori Kazama continues exploring the same kind of relationships as in her previous “The Mars Canon” and “How Old Is the River.” Latest effort vacillates between beguiling and boring, though with fractionally more depth than most of its kind.

When the itinerant Haruko (Mami Nakamura) floats back into the life of womanizer Shinnosuke (Kiyohiko Shibukawa), love is in the air. However, it never flows reciprocally between the two of them. Low-level humor arises from their amiable rivalry to find perfect partners, but pic’s leisurely pace is more conducive to snores than laughs. Performances are likable enough, but direction is inert and uninvolving, and tech credits are merely satisfactory. Original title, which simply means “The End of the World,” alludes to Haruko’s fears of oblivion every time a romantic interlude comes a cropper.

World's End/Girl Friend

Japan

Production: A Suzufukudo production. (International sales: Pony Canyon, Tokyo.) Produced by Naokatsu Ito. Directed by Shiori Kazama. Screenplay, Shotaro Oikawa.

Crew: Camera (color), Isao Ishii; editor, Kazama; music, Yuuichi Kishino; art director, Tomoyuki Maruo. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 10, 2005. (Also in 2004 Pusan Film Festival, A Window on Asian Cinema.) Running time: 111 MIN.

With: With: Mami Nakamura, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Keishi Nakatsuka, Seiichi Tanabe.

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