Elephant Song

Everything that happens in "Elephant Song" doesn't add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, "Zazie," charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd.

With:
Kanako ... Miyuki Matsuda Noboru ... Seiichiro Shimotsuki Yoshiki ... Susumu Terajima Susumu, Kanako's son ... Yuki Takamura Cafe client ... Hiromi Kuronuma Landlord ... Morio Agata

Everything that happens in “Elephant Song” doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, “Zazie,” charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd.

Ditzy waitress Kanako (winningly played by Miyuki Matsuda) learns that “Chestnut Uncle,” an old friend of hers, has died. She’d earlier promised to bury, rather than cremate, him to honor his wish to be transformed back into earth and be of use to the planet.

Kanako and her son flag down a friend with a delivery van and, with the body in the back, they set off. En route, she stops at a store to buy a spade and, in a delightfully loopy scene, ends up playing keyboard in the music department.

Next day, they reach the appointed place, on a wooded hillside. Kanako lugs the body on her back, pauses for a moment of tearful reflection, and buries the old man. She hugs her son in joy at a promise kept.

Pic is a back-of-an-envelope idea, with a cross-generational theme, that’s part road movie, part free-form filmmaking. By staying refreshingly oblique and never spelling out its messages, it maintains its easy appeal without any sense of strain. For a Generation X portrait, it’s also refreshingly optimistic.

Dialogue and playing is relaxed and easy, tech credits fine. Pic is part of a series produced by private TV station Wowow to give younger directors a chance, and could just as easily slot into discerning foreign webs’ skeds.

Elephant Song

(JAPANESE)

Production: A Wowow production for Japan Satellite Broadcasting. (International sales: JSB, Tokyo.) Produced by Takenori Sento, Shoetsu Sat, Koji Kobayashi. Directed by Go Riju. Screenplay, Osamu Minorikawa, Riju.

Crew: Camera (color), Kazuhiko Ogura; editor, Shuichi Kakesu; music, Sion; sound, Masatoshi Yokomizo. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 17, 1995. Running time: 59 MIN.

With: Kanako ... Miyuki Matsuda Noboru ... Seiichiro Shimotsuki Yoshiki ... Susumu Terajima Susumu, Kanako's son ... Yuki Takamura Cafe client ... Hiromi Kuronuma Landlord ... Morio Agata

More Film

  • Graphic Novel 'Under,' About Sewer Mutants,

    Graphic Novel 'Under,' About Sewer-Dwelling Mutants, Being Adapted Into Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    Everything that happens in “Elephant Song” doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, “Zazie,” charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd. Ditzy waitress […]

  • Daniel KaluuyaThe Metropolitan Museum of Art's

    Daniel Kaluuya to Star in Romantic Drama 'Queen and Slim' From Lena Waithe

    Everything that happens in “Elephant Song” doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, “Zazie,” charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd. Ditzy waitress […]

  • Durban Fest Fetes South African Women

    Durban Fest Fetes South African Women With Diverse Line-Up

    Everything that happens in “Elephant Song” doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, “Zazie,” charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd. Ditzy waitress […]

  • Predator Comic-Con panel

    'The Predator' Teases Battling Aliens at Gory Comic-Con Panel

    Everything that happens in “Elephant Song” doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, “Zazie,” charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd. Ditzy waitress […]

  • Durban FilmMart, CaribbeanTales Push Co-Productions for

    Durban FilmMart, CaribbeanTales Push Co-Prod Opportunities for Women of Color

    Everything that happens in “Elephant Song” doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, “Zazie,” charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd. Ditzy waitress […]

  • New Line Comic Con

    Everything We Saw From 'It 2' During New Line's Scare Diego Comic-Con Presentation

    Everything that happens in “Elephant Song” doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, but this charming, beautifully played vignetter puts many a more portentous feature to shame. Minimalist maverick Go Riju, whose last film, “Zazie,” charmed Toronto-goers back in 1989, has come up with another bauble sure to delight the fest crowd. Ditzy waitress […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content