A dying town in the lush, water-fed mountains of Japan’s southeastern Nara Prefecture inspires Mexican multihyphenate Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio to ruminate on natural wonders and the melancholy inevitability facing an aging population in “Inori.” Produced by Naomi Kawase as part of her Nara Film Fest’s Narative project, the docu adheres closely to the Kawase model of nature lensed in a minor key, and fans of Gonzalez-Rubio’s “Alamar” will find gentle pleasures in this agreeable yet slight work. “Inori” will fit snugly in fest sidebars.
Kannogawa is beautifully set on tree-carpeted slopes, but the once-bustling community has largely been left to the elderly. With the forestry industry dying and younger generations abandoning the jobless countryside for the cities, the few remaining residents go about their daily routines with an inescapable sense of the town’s mortality and their own. Gonzalez-Rubio alternates shots of verdant nature with scenes such as an old woman preparing rice porridge, or a man incinerating dead branches. A clock seen through the glint of dust particles is an over-obvious misstep in an otherwise understated poetic package. An excellent use of nature’s sounds completes the picture.