Sunday’s Dream

A slight letdown after his well-received debut, "Fishes in August" (1997), Yoichiro Takahashi's sophomore film is a visually striking but dramatically thin exercise in alienation. No doubt this is a director with a disciplined talent and a fine eye for detail, but a stronger, better motivated screenplay was sorely needed this time around.

With:
Kazuya ..... Kenji Mizuhashi Sachiko ..... Yumika Hayashi Father ..... Tetsu Watanabe Mother ..... Liliy Sakamoto ..... Shinya Tsukamoto

A slight letdown after his well-received debut, “Fishes in August” (1997), Yoichiro Takahashi’s sophomore film is a visually striking but dramatically thin exercise in alienation. No doubt this is a director with a disciplined talent and a fine eye for detail, but a stronger, better motivated screenplay was sorely needed this time around.

Kazuya (Kenji Mizuhashi) works for a company run by his father (Tetsu Watanabe), but when retrenchments are called for, he’s the first to be fired. Soon after, his grandmother is killed in an auto accident outside their home, and his mother (Liliy) starts dating Sakamoto (Shinya Tsukamoto), the driver of the fatal car.

For a while, Kazuya drifts around town on his bike, often dropping in on a brothel where he gets so friendly with sweet young Sachiko (Yumika Hayashi) that he asks her for a date the following Sunday; he even purchases a pair of bright red panties for her.

But that Sunday it is pouring rain and Kazuya, annoyed when the insensitive Sakamoto invades his private space, kills the man. Many years later he’s released into his father’s custody and sets about finding Sachiko again.

There are plenty of amusing moments in this elliptical drama and a lovely segue in which several years go by in a single cut after Kazuya has quite casually committed the crime (offscreen) and, in an instant, is out of prison, blinking in the unfamiliar sunlight. The director’s playfulness is engaging for a while, but it eventually becomes evident that there’s really not much to say about the annoyingly indolent hero.

Technical credits are fine in every department.

Sunday's Dream

(JAPAN)

Production: A NHK release and production. (International sales: NHK, Tokyo.) Produced by Fusao Mineshima. Directed by Yoichiro Takahashi. Screenplay, Ryo Iwamatsu.

Crew: Camera (color), Kazuhiko Ishikawa, Takeshi Hori; editor, Kiyoko Mizushima; music, Liliy & Yoz. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 11, 2000. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: Kazuya ..... Kenji Mizuhashi Sachiko ..... Yumika Hayashi Father ..... Tetsu Watanabe Mother ..... Liliy Sakamoto ..... Shinya Tsukamoto

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