Shinsedai Cinema Festival 2012 – Tentsuki Review (Kirk Haviland)

Shinsedai Film Festival 2012 (Toronto)

Tentsuki

Starring: Taku Manabe, Natsumi Seto, Ryuzaburo Hattori and Akaji Maro

Written by Masafumi Yamada and Takeshi Miyamoto

Directed by Masafumi Yamada

Tentsuki is a strange little film. Clearly inspired by the likes of David Lynch and the more obscure works of Takeshi Miike, Yamada’s Tentsuki takes place in a rural part of Japan that is inhabited by the quirkiest of characters and scenarios. But is there enough of a cohesive plot to carry the film forward?

Noburo (Manabe) is having quite the string of bad luck. After losing his job when his boss closes the company and runs away during the night, Noburo goes back to the company office and breaks in as he now needs a place to live. Shortly after breaking in Noboru receives some visitors in the form of the local Yakuza looking for their payout. Seeing Noburo in the office they assume he is a delegate of the company and demand their money. Noburo manages to escape and runs away to the country where he has a friend who acts as a building landlord. After setting up in one of the apartments Noburo meets the strange inhabitants of the building including the beautiful but mainly catatonic Miyuki (Seto). Miyuki seems to be content to drink away most of the days and can be seen in her catatonic state all over the building – oh and did I mention that she in convinced the “growth” on her back is actually a set of wings breaking out to the surface? Nobuoro starts a job as a safety guard, basically keeping people clear of construction areas which are inhabited by even more quirky characters. As Noburo and Miyuki’s relationship develops and the Yakuza start to close in, more details come to light from Miyuki’s past that might just send Noburo off and running again.

Manabe and Seto manage to execute this script to the best of their ability. Noburo comes off as apathetic and bumbling through most of the film, but this is probably the intention of director Yamada. Seto is adorable and safely steals every scene she is part of. Seto is truly the standout of Tentsuki. Another standout is the senior guard that teaches Noburo the ins and outs of the job, a nice piece of comic relief. Yamada’s direction is a little all over the place as I feel he got lost in worrying about atmosphere more that plot. The film meanders way too much and even at a reasonable 96 minutes feels very long in places. The film does look great though as most of the scenes are staged well and the backdrop of Kyoto shines.

Ultimately Tentsuki did not work for me very well as its meandering nature and my perceived feelings of a lack of direction and depth left me wanting. I cannot recommend Tentsuki, but I am fully aware that there is a whole audience out there who will probably disagree completely.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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