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Film/Festivals -Review WEST NORTH WEST #JapanCuts2017

Another gifted review from Tanimaru

It starts with a typical and embarrassing scene at Immigration in Japan. A young Iranian woman clearly has issues that need to be dealt with. She later finds herself in a coffee shop and notices another woman crying alone at a table. The Iranian woman’s phone rings and it is clearly someone from home. Excited and distraught she speaks too loudly and customers leave. The woman crying in the corner comes to sit with her and their conversation becomes so loud more customers complain. They leave and the crying woman offers the Iranian woman a ride home – and she declines at first but later accepts. So begins WEST NORTH WEST.

The Iranian woman needs a friend, Kei becomes her friend, but Kei’s lover is jealous. The Iranian woman finds it hard to accept Kei’s lifestyle, so with her nameless bird she contemplates a life staying in Japan.
What makes the film so beautiful are the silences. the performers soak up the atmosphere in each scene and they are so present with each other. Behavior substitutes for dialogue. The cinematography enhances this wide masters, simple and subtle camera moves allowing life to happen in the frame. A simple Iranian meal with yogurt Iranian style prepared by Naima allows them to bond. Naima shares food and Kei returns the favor with applying makeup followed with a night where Kei works as a bartender. They dance in wild abandon, observed by Ai, Kei’s lover. Ai becomes ill and needs surgery and for the first time, Ai’s mother realizes that “Kei” is not a man. It is a disturbing encounter for Kei. When Ai is released from the hospital she silently confronts Naima, telling her to never see Kei again And then Ai seeks out Kei finding her where she swims, but Kei dismisses her. They later hook up but Kei is ready to break up. Ai warns Kei that Naima is “not like us” – but what does “us” mean? Baro tries to sing at the bar where Kei works and does poorly. Some customers insult her and this is too much for Kei who attacks one of the men. He retaliates brutally. Baro dresses her wounds prompting Kei to try to kiss her, but Naima declines.
So many scenes play out in real time including a ride on a Tokyo bus that was clearly captured without anyone knowing. Kei and Ai find their way back to each other and Naima graduates. Before Naima departs for Iran, they meet one last time at the bar. It is bittersweet – but they both have closure. This is a unique and wonderful film. Please have patience to fully enjoy it.





July 21, 2017 - Posted by | ART, CULTURE, FILM, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , ,

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