Sunday's Dream | Chicago Reader

Sunday's Dream

Nothing much happens on the surface of Yoichiro Takahashi's muted psychological portrait of a disaffected, suicidal young man in a Japanese coastal town. Kazuya's parents are divorced, and he's unemployed. He nonchalantly looks for a job while befriending a salon hostess named Sachiko, who plays word games with him in a chaste relationship. Then one Sunday he inexplicably kills his new stepfather and winds up in prison. Takahashi borrows from the Ozu/Hou Hsiao-hsien school of direction, using static long takes and occasional slow pans to immerse us in the world of his characters. And recalling Takeshi Kitano in his early films on youth, he keeps the crucial events—a car accident, the killing, Kazuya's time in jail—offscreen. Instead he gives us long sequences in which Kazuya is submerged in a tub of water, circling on his bike, staring into space—solitary activities that hint at a silent rage. But Takahashi doesn't have Ozu's and Hou's exquisite sense of timing or their ability to construct a purposeful mise-en-scene, nor can he sustain emotional resonance the way they do. The unarticulated feelings of his characters seem more like poses, and the laconic dialogue comes across as precious. His late-90s rebel without a cause—supposedly emblematic of a humbled and doubtful postrecession Japan—is merely an enigma, too vague to gain our sympathy. 89 min.

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