Kagura-me / かぐらめ (2015)
Director : Yasuo Okuaki
Screenwriter : Namba Nozomu
Cinematographer : Hiroshi Iwanaga
Cast : Rina Takeda, Ren Osugi, Mariko Tsutsui, Mei Kurokawa, Ryu Morioka, Nanako Okouchi, Keiko Shirasu, Masayuki Shida, Komaki Se
Music : Koji Igarashi
I liked this film but for whatever reason I don’t have a lot to say about it. It’s a Japanese family drama, one of my favorite genres. The story focuses on Akane, a young woman (Rina Takeda) who returns home after many years of not talking to her father (Ren Osugi). This is due to what happened in the past with her dying mother (Mariko Tsutsui). As a child, Akane (Komaki Se) saw her father leave her mother’s bedside before she passed away. He went to perform a ritual dance called Kagura at a festival. Akane never forgave him for that moment.
Now during the movie, we do find out why her father left at that moment but the question of why this wasn’t cleared up earlier is a mystery unless I missed a part. I admit I was a bit tired before seeing the film and that combined with reading French subtitles might’ve caused me to miss some nuances. There’s definitely nothing groundbreaking here. Sick and deceased mothers are quite common in Japanese films so what ends up setting a film apart is the acting and luckily in this case, the acting is very strong. The scene where her father gives the mother’s last letter to Akane to read is very moving. Takeda does well in perhaps her first full dramatic role (she’s more known for action/karate movies). Ren Osugi is a veteran actor who has a long list of acting credits so his great performance should come as no surprise. Another strong scene is when Mariko Tsutsui’s character talks about her past to Akane.
The Kagura dance scene is also well done but personally there is something about the sound of the kagurabue flute played that bothered my ears. It might be the high pitched “airiness” that to me sounds a bit too close to nails on a chalkboard. The costume that’s worn by two people for Kagura reminds me of Chinese lion dance but not as animated.
The film is somewhat slow but definitely worth seeing if you like this type of Japanese drama.