Megane


Title: Megane
Translated Title: Glasses
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Starring: Satomi Kobayashi, Mikako Ichikawa, Ryo Kase
Director: Naoko Ogigami
Language: Japanese

Escaping from the business of her city life, Taeko finds herself travelling to a remote island in the hopes of solitude with only the promise of no cell-phone reception spurring her decision, but the transition from her hectic lifestyle to one filled with long hours of doing nothing is not an easy one to make, and the curious locals do little to help with matters. Yeah, I know, it all sounds like a bit of a cliché drama, but it was that “curious locals” part that got me interested. After Miike's “Visitor Q” and Satoshi Miki's “Instant Swamp” I had a certain set of expectations in mind for the wacky brand of comedy in store. Except as it turns out, I'd barely refer to this as a comedy at all.

That's not to say it's necessarily bad, simply that the comical aspect certainly seems to have been overplayed. The residents of the island are unquestionably a little strange but they also have a certain sense of mystery to them; we don't know their background or history, and we never really do learn any details about them, only who they are now. It doesn't feel forced, like the characters have something to hide, but rather that who they are now should be enough. The problem is that in their quest for setting the scene they seem to forget to give them personalities strong enough to stand up to scrutiny; the elderly lady with shaved ice, the hotel owner and the young woman constantly late for school is pretty much all we are dealt.

What could rapidly be heading for disaster is saved not by the characters but by the atmosphere that the director has managed to create; that care free watching of the lapping of the waves matched with the subtle classical ambient soundtrack allowing you to loll and day dream. Only half paying attention seems to be more to the point of this film than any character analysis, the notion of taking the time out from a hectic day to just sit and do absolutely nothing, and appreciate the simpler things like the taste of a good beer on a hot spring day at the beach, or taking the time to do whatever you want free from any consequences. The cinematography in this regard is spectacular, in turn taking its own time to devote to the most simple but elegant of shots, keeping things as simple as possible.

With the core focus on “twilighting” - somewhere between deep reminiscent thoughts and spacing out – the film is oddly representative of just that concept. Despite being nearly two hours long and filled with long scenes of nothingness, it rapidly floats by as if to leave you to your own thoughts; to let you 'twilight' on your own and dream off various day dreams. One day, I can see myself in my retirement making like many of the characters in the film and disappearing off the face of the planet for a few months a year to relax in relative solitude, drift off on the beach and knit, swim, play guitar and live life without a care. But that's when I retire. I still have a way to go before that, and right now I miss logical thought.


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