Apologies, apologies. Again. With what seems to be the watchword for the blog this year, I can only apologise for the lack of content recently. Ironically it certainly isn’t due to a lack of movies being watched. Putting the real world to one side, the issue is probably I have too much to potentially write about. I’m thinking maybe it is time to re-introduce the capsule reviews. Or maybe even the video reviews. Or possibly both. Anyway, the fingers are flowing now, so let’s have a look at this interesting horror/thriller from Japan. Interesting premise. Female director who earned her corn under one of my favourites, Kiyoshi Kurusawa. Simply had to be worth a look right?
In “Bilocation”, things are looking up for struggling artist Shinobu Takamura (Asami Mizukawa). A chance encounter with a kind-hearted yet near blind man (Yosuke Asari) has resulted in marriage and a quite obviously brighter life. Things really change during a trip to the supermarket. She is accused of passing counterfeit notes, with CCTV footage showing her doing the same thing only minutes before. The Police are called, but Detective Kano (Kenichi Takito) is not really interesting in her perceived crime. He takes her to a mysterious house, and after jumping through some hoops she is introduced to a bunch of people who all have a similar issue to her. All of them have “Bilocations”, duplicated of themselves (different to Doppelgangers though). It appears that at certain times of stress, they have generated a duplicate of themselves, that possesses certain elements of the behaviour that caused the split. For example, Detective Kano was being bullied by an aggressive superior, so his Bilocation is an embodiment of his rage. For Mayumi Kadokura (Wakana Sakai), the issue started with the illness of her child, and her Bilocation is very protective of the sick child.
What we basically have is a self-help group, fronted by the mysterious but knowledgeable Iizuka (Kosuke Toyohara), who is in turn assisted by the even more mysterious Kaga (Sho Takada). What follows is a battle between these people and there rather unstable Bilocations, raising all kinds of issues. And at the core of the story is how Shinobu deals with the ramifications of her own spilt.
Good things first? Asami Mizukawa is excellent, playing her part in a low key manner (when most other performers are on the edge of hysteria, or really rather underused). It helps she is an old hand at this kind of film, but she really is very watchable and fairly empathetic. Kenichi Takito is his usual “on the edge of a nervous breakdown” self, and is always a welcome addition. The design of the piece is also very interesting, not just in terms of visual effects and smart on screen hints, but also with the look and feel of the various locations. The idea is a very interesting one, and the film certainly rattles along at a good pace, with some mild but effective jumps and scares and a smattering of blood.
Unfortunately, it really does not quite work. The film is based on a popular novel, and not for the first time I can’t quite shake the feeling the desire to get all the major plot points of the original tale in means that something has been lost on the way. Forgetting the enormous plot holes (several people die, and yet not once is there any kind of interest from the authorities), the real problem with the movie is that the film lacks any kind of consistent explanation about what is going on.
Why for example are most of our Bilocations utterly unstable and out for blood in some kind of all-out war, yet the Bilocation of our heroine appears to be non-threatening and benign. There are plenty of times the film suddenly grinds to a halt for an extended piece of exposition, only for the vast majority of what we have been told to turn out not only to be a half-truth at best, but the deception seems utterly pointless. And if you didn’t get the big final reel reveal before it is exposed, then you really have not seen enough films. What was the point of the Kaga character? And why is the bilocation of a student apparently not too far different to his human self?
It is sad, because on so many levels this film is interesting, because it isn’t a full out shocker, and has plenty to say about us as people and about the role of the modern woman too. Sadly, because of the uneven mood, and the labyrinthine (and let’s not forget mostly unearned) plot, I can’t really find myself giving this much more than a mild recommendation.
I just feel if the film had decided to eschew some of the more violent parts of the story, and given us a tighter focus on our main characters? It would have been a much more enjoyable and consistent, if not visceral, experience
On the other hand, it seems that the film has been a success, as we are going to have a sequel very soon. So what do I know?