The Light Shines Only There (2014)
Director : Mipo O
Screenwriter : Ryo Takada. Based on the novel by: Yasushi Sato
Cinematographer : Ryuto Kondo
Editor : Etsuko Kimura
Cast : Go Ayano, Chizuru Ikewaki, Masaki Suda, Kazuya Takahashi, Shohei Hino, Hiroko Isayama
Music : Takuto Tanaka
Set in the poorer areas of Hokodate, Hokkaido, the story is about a former coal miner, Tatsuo, who’s on an extended leave due to an accident, he meets a young man, Takuji, in a Pachinko parlor and ends up being introduced to his sister, Chinatsu. After a rough start, Tatsuo begins a romance with Chinatsu. However, her family and work is complicated and involves another jealous lover who is more affluent and wields a power over Takuji.
There are a few sex scenes and some violence but it’s mostly off camera. There is a bit of nudity but overall the scenes are not really shocking or anything new. Perhaps I blinked during some crucial subtitles but I didn’t quite understand the situation with Chinatsu and Takuji’s father. I knew he became bedridden due to a stroke or heart attack but it seemed like he needed “special” care of some sort that didn’t make much sense to me, which was humiliating to the family.
In any case, this is a bleak love story but I did not understand what this story was trying to say about love and sex. To me, the bleakness had no meaning and I could not really sympathize with the characters. I think part of the reason is because we don’t really know how Chinatsu and Takuji ended up in the situation they are in when Tatsuo meets them. Chinatsu and Tatsuo just look sad or angry most of the time. Takuji is overly happy and practically an out of place caricature who only gets more dimension towards the end. Also I could not understand why Chinatsu and Tatsuo were attracted to each other beyond being portrayed by attractive actors.
The director and two main actors were in attendance for a Q&A but based on the audience’s rather general questions, I believe the audience like myself was somewhat confused by the film as well.