Writer-director Sion Sono was in pre-production on a story of troubled youth when the tsunami struck eastern Japan. Yet Sono decided to shoot the film in the midst of a devastated Ibaraki prefecture, since its subject is a young man driven to thoughts of suicide by his fears over the future.
Fifteen-year-old Sumida is left scraping a living from the family boat-hire business but his alcoholic father would prefer the lad to kill himself so he can collect on the insurance. Former classmate Keiko is swooning with admiration for Sumida’s stoicism, yet in the volatile atmosphere of a ravaged nation a will to survive can soon mutate into hatred towards a society which has betrayed its young. Taking his countrymen to task for the empty platitudes with which they have greeted the current crisis, Sono’s genuinely angry film also meets the challenge of finding convincing grounds for hope in the next generation. Passionate and contentious, it’s easily his best since the majestic Love Exposure.
Himizu is released exclusively at the IFI, Dublin from 22 June 2012.