Aru Michi (A Road)
The opening home movie shot depicts a young boy on the hunt for his lizard friend in his garden. This is his idea of happiness but when we jump to 12 years later the young boy is becoming a man and is struggling with the pressures of growing up. Heralded as the youngest feature film director to be selected for the Berlinale, Daichi Sugimoto, casts himself as the lead in this sensitive story of a young man trying to find the right path. Still living with his mother, Daichi is studying for his exams as he wants to be a filmmaker. However, he can’t resist spending nights with his friends, riding motorbikes aimlessly around the city, and feels ultimately lost and confused by the road ahead.
The film constantly cuts back to the home video footage of young Daichi, almost as if the protagonist was daydreaming about his past, chasing a lost innocence. The biker gang offer a life of petty crime but he’s more interested in their sense of freedom, not adhering to the strict conventions set upon them. There is an interesting divide between Daichi’s student friends and his biker friends. He is shy around the former, for fear of being judged and criticised, but with the biker gang he can be himself and we see his personality split as the performance becomes a little bit more nuanced.
It’s the growing pains behind the camera that really stifle the production. The dialogue is expositional and stilted, the camera work is static and the acting is really flat. All of these student film flaws make Aru Michi a difficult, sluggish watch that the audience can never really sink into. The film goes down paths many films have worn out already, without discovering anything new, but there are some flashes of youthful exuberance on display that show this young director has potential once he lets go of the handlebars a little bit.
Aru Michi (A Road) does not have a UK release date yet.
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