German Film Review

Film: Grüße aus Fukushima (Greetings from Fukushima, aka Fukushima, Mon Amour)

Director: Dorris Dorrie

Starring: Kaori Momoi, Rosalie Tomass

Note: Some Spoilers

I mentioned in an earlier post that last year I worked on a German Film set in Japan. It was released in a film festival in Germany back in February to pretty good reviews. It finally made it to Japan last Saturday, as part of the Goethe Institut German Film Festival. As part of the crew who worked on the film, I got a free ticket. It was quite the experience. Below is a shot of the film directors showing at the festival.

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The film was pretty good.It did a lot to bring visibility to the devastation of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. It showed a bleak world inhabited by people hurt and damaged by personal and material loss.

The director made some choices that were a little clichéd for my taste. The main character, Satomi, played by Kaori Momoi, was the last Geisha in Fukushima. Before I came to Japan, I might have been ok with this choice, but the foreign fascination with Geisha is pretty tired.

The foreigner, Marie, played by Rosalie Tomass, comes to Fukushima as a clown to cheer up the locals after the disaster. She is a bit of a bull in a china shop by comparison to the diminutive Satomi, who decides to teach her Tea Ceremony. So, Geisha and Tea Ceremony. We only need a samurai and we’ll have the cliché trifecta. That said, the tea was never called a ceremony, and could easily have just been teaching the big foreigner how to be more gentle, quiet, and present.

There were also ghosts. This is also kind of a cliché, but I was able to accept this one because of the context. That is to say, they were depicted as real, but they were really the emotional damage caused by guilt and loss.

Grüße aus Fukushima is a film about Japan by a filmmaker who loves Japan, but is still in the infatuation stage. She has her fantasies about the culture that inform her opinion of it. But they are still just fantasies. Maybe this says more about me. The mystery of Japan is gone for me. The tea ceremony is just uncomfortable and uncomfortably quiet. In some ways I envy Ms. Dorrie her fantasy. She is a youth who still hasn’t learned her lover is just some guy.

Oh, and yeah the drone shots were awesome.

 

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