Japan 82 minutes
Written and Directed by Masahiro Kovayashi
Cast: Fusako Urabe, Ryuzo Tanaka, Takayuki Hato
With an initial disclaimer that the film is fiction “loosely based on real events,” Kobayashi plunges into the desolate daily existence of Yuko, an aid worker whose recent kidnapping and release in the Middle East has made her the town pariah once back at home. As the narrative begins, the situation has reached a tipping point and, in quick succession, Yuko is shunned by coworkers, fired from her job, harassed by strangers and dumped by her boyfriend. The message to Yuko, finally stated in blunt terms by a taunting voice on her answering machine is thus: “If you”d been killed, you would have been a heroine. Now you are nothing but an embarrassment to us all.” [SFiFF Program Guide]
Bashing is a very sad story. Not tearjerkingly sad, but sad in the sense of how mean and hurtful peopleâ€”indeed, a societyâ€”can be.
After losing her job, Yuko meets two school-girl friends on the street, one pushing a stroller, one with a child in her arms. “Where have you been? You were gone so long.” This is rhetorical. The whole town knows that she was taken hostage while providing aid in a Middle Eastern war. Aside from being fired from her job as a hotel maid, she’s seen as an embarrassment to her town and her friends and her country. “You should have had an arranged marriage and a baby,” (like us) they continue.
Her father, an assembly line worker, is forced to “resign” from his job of 30 years because his company has been besieged by angry phone calls. Why? He went and got his daughter to bring her home when she was released from captivity.
In the Middle East, they appreciated her as a volunteer, even loved her for “comforting and holding the hand of a pregnant woman during a bombing raid.” Her future lies there.
mrating * * * *
The San Francisco International Film Festival is running now through May 4. I”m volunteering at the festival and plan to attend as many of the films as I can work in to my schedule. Bear in mind that, for the most part, these are independent films and many have not been picked up for distribution, so they may not be playing at a “theater near you” anytime soon. On the other hand, some of the foreign films may have already been released in Europe.
As a public service, I will post brief reviews. My ratings are based on 5 stars ***** with a tilde ~ being half-a-star.
Happy viewing, or in any case, keep your eyes on rectorsite.com.