Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Woman of the Water ("Mizu no Onna")

This gorgeous film has been recommended by fellow blogger World of Overcast. It is (of course!) a Japanese movie, starring Asano Tadanobu and the singer Ua. It was the first time I heard about her by the way, and she has a beautiful, strong voice (from what I could grasp from the film soundtrack).

Mark likes to call Tadanobu the "Japanese Ralph Fiennes", since he always appears naked in his films... Well, jokes apart, he is perhaps 90% right here! (Lucky us viewers, I must say...)

The film is directed by Sugimori Hidenori (dated 2002) and is a real gem. Somehow it recalls the beautiful images and words from Overcast as well, and it is a quiet, melancholy movie, almost like a watercolour - shades of blue and green seem to dominate most of the time.

It tells the story (or rather tale) of Ryo, whose life's meaningful events are always announced by rain. She is also a Pisces and, as her fiancé mentions in the beginning, could only be surrounded by water. Actually, she works with her Father in a bath house and, one day, during a rainfall, her Dad and fiancé both die in separate incidents. From now on, it is Ryo starting from scratch, new life, new beginnings.

She gets involved with Asano's character, Yusaku, a young man obsessed with bonfires. She hires him to work in the bath house working the fire, and they start a relationship. It happens that Yusaku is a wanted pyromaniac, as we find at one stage.

There are other characters in the plot, two females, who represent other elements: Midori, the crazy homeless woman who Ryo calls "Mom" and seems to symbolise Earth, and Yukino, an artist that Ryo befriends during a trip to Mt. Fuji and whom she meets again when it's time to repaint the Mt. Fuji's landscape in the bath house walls, and she comes with the master painter. This woman, a free spirit, always wandering around, may be associated with the Wind/Air. This interview with the director explains well this concept of the 4 elements and their symbolism in the film, worth having a look.

The relationship between Ryo and Yusaku relies on a fine balance. They both seem to complement each other: no questions asked, no demands, beautiful dialogues, poetic lovemaking. She is water but becomes strangely more "fiery" and assertive than Yusaku himself, whereas he seems to plunge more deeply inside the turvy waters of his memories and past.

Midori, the "green" homeless woman, has a crucial role in the conclusion of the story, which I will not disclose here, naturally.

I strongly recommend this little gem of a film, although I can understand it is not for everybody. From what I've seen, some people find it to be extremely boring and slow, but believe me when I say it is a beauty. And not because I am a Pisces as well, and my element is Water, and etc... No, not because of that, but simply because it is extremely rewarding. Now, please go ahead; you won't regret it!

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