The Furthest End Awaits
Wednesday 15th October, 8.45pm – ICA
Saturday 18th October, 3pm – BFI Southbank, NFT2
Japanese Cinema is well-known for its daring and refreshing takes on a range of typically western genres, but The Furthest End Awaits – directed by Hsiu-Chiung Chiang, star of Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day – is guilty of some of the worst sins in predictable and formulaic filmmaking.
The plot feels like an underwritten fairytale: a young girl and her even younger brother are often left alone while their preoccupied single mother works in the city as a hostess. During one such maternal absence, the pair chance upon the kindness of a nearby cafė owner who’s just moved in. Through her, the young girl discovers the joy of working for a living, and although their mother is cautious of this new woman’s influence, she too is eventually reformed by her generosity.
From here, events drift ever onwards, without any prevailing narrative, across topics of family, loss and belief, but there’s little to pique the interest of a discerning audience member. To make matters worse, the film has approximately five endings, each more saccharine and less interesting than the last.
The film’s child actors are cute enough, and even the adults do a satisfactory enough job, but characterisation relies mostly on stereotypes, including a villain of almost mythic proportions who steals the children’s food money while chain smoking with a patch across one eye. Despite all his obvious faults, however, the young mother is easily duped into thinking he’s a good match, and really, truly loves her.
This character is also responsible for one of the films most reprehensible moments, in which one of the female characters is rescued from an attempted rape when a sack of coffee beans is dropped on the attacker’s head. The scene is overly flippant, but what’s most offensive is the way that the victim shrugs off the incident and that this is shown as a sign of great emotional strength. The character even jokes about their “burglar friend” a few days on.
Despite the offence caused, The Furthest End Awaits’ overly sentimental approach is bound to be appealing to some. It’s well produced, and in the film’s first half the typical story beats are hit, as perfunctorily as this may be. But The Furthest End Awaits offers very little, and even less of any novelty. It’s a film that aims for low hanging fruit and hits it, dead on.
The Furthest End Awaits release date is yet to be announced.
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Watch the trailer for The Furthest End Awaits here: