Journey to the Shore
Japanese horror legend Kiyoshi Kurosawa returns with a “not your average” love story. The writer and director of films such as The Cure (1997) and Pulse (2001) has donned a pair of rose-tinted glasses and given in to his softer side. Journey to the Shore is a delicate and spiritual film exploring the deep-rooted Eastern culture and beliefs surrounding renewable life; it follows Mizuke and her husband Yusuke – who drowned in an accident at sea and has returned to bring peace to Mizuke’s remaining years.
As gentle and romantic as the narrative is, it is still first and foremost a ghost story. The couple retrace the steps of Yusuke, finding compassion and pain at every turn. The encounters they have raise moral and spiritual questions: the troubled lives of those they meet highlight the issues of their own marriage. As viewers begin to understand the relationship they maintained, it is clear they were anything but happy.
The mood is coherent yet ever-changing. The use of lighting does wonders for the slightly eerie atmosphere and allows the narrative to live out its journey without an overwhelming sense of sentimentality (although it tips over the edge occasionally). The dominant soundtrack plays heavily on the emotional elements of the film, not really allowing it to adopt any subtlety at the crucial points of the narrative; the forceful reminder that this is tragic and melancholic risks becoming tedious.
In many respects the film is truly touching, a quality that is easily overlooked but not so easily achieved. For those who are patient and understanding of grief, loss and regret, Journey to the Shore has the potential depth to be incredibly moving.
As their “journey to the shore” comes to a close, both Mizuke and Yusuke come to a point of realisation and understanding, as does the audience. The time invested into setting the tone is inspired – if this attention to subtle detail had developed, and continued throughout, this film would be stunning. As it is, we are presented with a very romantic metaphor that the action desperately attempts to cling to – in the most visually enjoyable way.
Journey to the Shore is released in selected cinemas on 20th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for Journey to the Shore here: