A nod to Fellini does little to clarify the maddeningly elliptical "Crickets," helmer Shinji Aoyama's latest symbol-filled drama. The pic invokes the Swiss director's affinity for mythologizing in this tale of a blind mute and the younger woman who looks after him. Fest item is unlikely to win Aoyama new fans.

A nod to Fellini does little to clarify the maddeningly elliptical “Crickets,” helmer Shinji Aoyama’s latest symbol-filled drama. Publicized as a tribute to the late Daniel Schmid, the pic invokes the Swiss director’s affinity for mythologizing in this tale of a blind mute and the younger woman who looks after him. Visually appealing head-scratcher questions the nature of dependence and fulfillment, but all roads don’t lead to the same destination. Fest item is unlikely to win Aoyama new fans.

Serene Kaoru (Kyoka Suzuki) lives with a sightless old man (Tsutomu Yamazaki) in his home on the coast. Having given up her previous life for this new existence as caregiver, she tests his limits to see just how much he needs her. Doubt creeps in when a trip to a bar makes her realize she hasn’t entirely subsumed her need for outside contact. Aoyama uses a 1:33:1 aspect ratio to restrict what can be seen within the frame, mimicking the circumscribed boundaries Kaoru has set for herself. Tech credits are flawless, with particular attention paid to silvery effects of light.

Crickets

Japan

Production

An Intl. Contents Trading Corp., Pug Point Japan, Aoi Advertising Promotion production. (International sales: Gold View Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Motohiro Hatanaka, Akihiko Yose. Executive producer, Atsushi Katayanagi. Co-producer, Setsuyo Hatanaka. Directed by Shinji Aoyama. Screenplay, Ryo Iwamatsu, based on a story by Motohiro Hatanaka.

Crew

Camera (color), Masaki Tamura; editor, Yuji Ohshige; music, Hiroyuki Nagashima; production designer, Takeshi Shimizu; costume designer, Miwako Kobayahsi. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 7, 2006. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Kyoka Suzuki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Masanobu Ando, Ayumi Ito.
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