A curse on a noble but unholy family in a remote community casts its shadow over several generations in prolific Japanese helmer Koji Wakamatsu’s “The Millennial Rapture,” a soapy slog that sometimes feels like it’s taking a thousand years to wind up. Picturesque small-town scenery, period trappings and a comely cast rep pluses from a commercial standpoint, as does a light smattering of very softcore sex scenes, but the pic feels too slapdash and culturally specific to travel far beyond Nippon.Set sometime in the mid-20th century, judging by the costumes, in an isolated town of Japan’s southerly Kishu region, midwife Oryu (Shinobu Terajima), married to monk Reijo (Shiro Sano) helps the bring several sons of the Nakamoto family into the world, all of them cursed with good looks but bad luck. With decreasing returns, tales unspool of ladies’ man Hanzo (Kengo Kora), thief Miyoshi (Sosuke Takaoka) and finally, least-interesting Tatsuo (Shota Sometani), who gives Oryu a bit of rapture in the last act. Apart from Terajima, thesping is stiff, possibly a sign of a hasty production, given the cheap-looking tech credits. A pretty folk-infused score helps alleviate the dreariness.
A Celluloid Dreams presentation of a Wakamatsu Prods. production. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Noriko Ozaki, Koji Wakamatsu. Directed by Koji Wakamatsu. Screenplay, Mari Ide, based on the novel by Kenji Nakagam.
Camera (color, HD), Tomohiko Tsuji; editor, Kumiko Sakamoto; music, Hashiken, Mizuki Nakamura; production designer, Tomohiro Masumoto; costume designer, Masae Miyamoto; sound (Dolby Digital), supervising sound editor, Noriyoshi Yoshida. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 4 2012. Running time: 118 MIN.
Shinobu Terajima, Shiro Sano, Kengo Kora, Sosuke Takaoka, Shota Sometani. By Leslie Felperin