Wait and See | Chicago Reader

Wait and See

Influential Japanese director Shinji Somai focuses his signature style of dispassionate long takes on a subject that has preoccupied much of recent Japanese cinema—the seismic effects of widespread economic recession on family life. On the surface nothing has changed—all the exquisitely apposite trappings of 80s affluence seem serenely in place. The young head of the household, whose success in the corporate world has allowed him to marry into money, has even added a quaintly eccentric touch: a couple of chickens in the backyard, a nod to his rustic roots perhaps, or maybe only something warm and living to counter the suburban sterility. He seems nice enough—loving and attentive to his child, polite to the point of blandness with his wife and mother-in-law. Into this life of careful civility comes his long-lost, presumed dead father, whose drunken earthiness alternately seduces (unlike his son the suit, this kimono-clad throwback is handy around the house) and appalls (he sneaks around to peep at the mother-in-law bathing). Unable to cope with this sudden intrusion from the past, the young man finds himself equally unequipped to deal with the future. The investment company for which he works is on the verge of bankruptcy, but old habits of corporate fealty keep him from taking his colleagues' advice and deserting the sinking ship. Somai is good at maintaining surface tension, and the very absence of immediate emotional release makes this 1999 film's unexpectedly upbeat finale really pay off. 100 min.

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