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Maborosi (Widescreen)

Makiko Esumi , Takashi Nait˘ , Hirokazu Koreeda    Unrated   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Hirokazu Kore-eda's haunting, graceful Japanese film features a concentrated and powerfully reserved performance by Makiko Esumi as Yumiko, a young woman whose life is defined by the death and disappearance of her loved ones. As a child, she witnessed her grandmother's walking away from her family; as an adult, she must face the fact that her husband has committed suicide.

Impeccably lit and framed, this self-consciously classical first feature blends characteristics of two of the great Japanese masters: a sensitive portrait of a woman's suffering is reminiscent of Mikio Naruse and a serene, minimalist style is suggestive of Yasujiro Ozu. At times, Kore-eda seems to be trudging too dutifully in the path of his illustrious predecessors, and there is little in the film that could be qualified as original. Yet Maborosi remains convincing in its subtle, sustained moods and the quiet confidence of its approach. --Dave Kehr

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow the Light June 18 2004
If one is familiar with Kore-eda's later film _After Life_ one already knows that death and memory play key parts in his films. After creating stellar documentaries concerning such subjects as AIDS and what it is like for a Korean man passing himself off as Japanese for decades, Kore-eda created _Maborosi_ a film that takes a close look at the greif caused by losing a loved one.
The film starts off by showing a young girl named Yumiko trying to convince her grandmother to return home, however, the grandmother is determined to return home to die. Yumiko is unable to prevent her grandmother from leaving and this weighs on her young mind. Warp twelve or so years later and Yumiko is married to her childhood friend Ikuo and is the mother of a three year old son. Yumiko and Ikuo are far from well off, they live in a very small apartment with incredibly thin walls, but they seem to be decently happy. Well, at least Yumiko seems happy. After her husband brings home his bike and leaves with an umbrella, the next thing we learn is that he was killed walking on the train tracks. A suspected suicide.
Time passes and Yumiko's mother arranges her a marriage with a widower who lives in Kanazawa. Unlike her small apartment, Yumiko and her son move into a large old house with her new husband, his father, and his daughter. Ikuo gets along beautifully with his step-grandfather and step-sister and while it seems Yumiko likes her husband well enough, the shadow of Ikuo is always preasant.
This is a gorgeous film. Kore-eda does a wonderful job depicting the living conditions of a lower working class family and goes on to show ramshackle, but lovely older homes by the sea. Yumiko's husband's home looks incredibly shabby on the outside, but the polished hardwood floors and traditional furniture are extraordinary. Kore-eda also pays close attention to nature by showing the natural beauty of the region.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good movie Sept. 15 2003
This is an honest movie. To me, it's about dealing with tragedies in our lives. The story it tells is about trying to understand why things happen that are full of sadness. It shows it is difficult, if not impossible to "get over" terrible events in our lives. This may not be a good movie for those who have not endured loss of a loved one. It may require some experience with tragedy to appreciate the movie. How else can one be sensitive to another's suffering unless they have experienced the same or very similar pain and sorrow? Maybe this film is trying to do that, to invite everyone to "feel" what it is like to be really confused, lost, and frustrated about some events in our lives. I may be wrong, but the writer of this movie must know the characters very well, know what they're feeling, and have a sense of confusion about why we do certain things that are hard to explain. I appreciate this movie. It helps me to think about my own confusion and why I do the things I do in my life.
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3.0 out of 5 stars (mostly) Great movie, Bad Bad Bad transfer May 6 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is an all-time favorite of mine. I've seen it in the cinema close to ten times. The visual composition is extraordinary. Simple scenes like a bus coming into frame and around a corner--no plot, no action--are stunning and enthralling. The writing and acting are understated and powerful, finding the maximum expression with the minimum gesture.
That said, the second half is too long. Even I get tired and have trouble keeping focus and this is supposed to be one of my favorites.
References to Japanese culture may be slightly opaque, but actually it's really not hard to have some appreciation even without prior familiarity. For instance, a kettle on a flame in a household is a recurrent image. There may be some specific reference or message there, but I think it's sufficient to appreciate it as a sign of the warm interior of the household and the tea ready to serve to family or guests.
Now, the reason for 3 stars only: The transfer is horrendous, abysmal, outrageous--this travesty demands retribution on whoever is responsible. Many reviewers refer to dark, indistinct images where characters can't even be recognized. The screen image is snowy throughout. Let me assure you that this never occurs in a decent print of the film, and to issue this transfer is a crime.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but confusing Jan. 6 2003
I picked up Maborosi thinking it was another Japanese film I'd seen mentioned, so had no idea what to expect. And, with no buzz to prepare me, I still had little idea what was going on until near the very end.
Since there is little dialog, one is left to interpret a series of lengthy set shots. Many go on so long one expects they have Significance-with-a-capital-S to those imbued with Japanese culture, but I was left screaming "what does 5 minutes of washing stairs Mean?"
This is compounded by the director's conscious choice to film primarily with the characters at extreme distance or in heavy shadow. At the front row of a regular theatre this may fly, but on a home screen, even watching closely, I was often at a loss to figure out which character I was watching, much less detect subtle nuances of expression or action. Even watching it 2 or 3 times, I was still not sure what happened at the end of the stair scrubbing scene. Given that the director's background is in television, this is surprising, or perhaps he just went overboard with the freedom of a new medium.
The film is visually beautiful, even in the scenes where the characters are almost hidden, and the snapshots of traditional/rural Japanese life and material culture are fascinating. But the almost total lack of moving shots seems like a little too cute of a restriction of vocabulary. As one reviewer said, like a slide show rather than cinema.
I also felt a lack of context, much of it I'm sure because I'm not Japanese nor deeply familiar with the culture. But part of a director's work must surely be to create context.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and Beautiful
The cinematography gives this film more depth and meaning with the medium and long shots of events as they unfold in the lives of a Japanese couple ... Read more
Published on July 2 2007 by Erika Borsos
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love Japanese culture, you'll love this film
Maborosi (Maboroshi no Hikari) is a beautiful film. It's simply one of the best movies in my Japanese collection (which isn't small). Read more
Published on Dec 30 2003 by R. Wingate
5.0 out of 5 stars vermeer wanders along the japanese seashore
this is an amazing film
haiku simple
images framed long and slow like the esteemed dutch painter contemplating something darker than his typical subject
few movies... Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2003 by Timothy G. Lowly
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and beautiful
A sad, quiet film about a young woman whose experience of death, such as the mysterious suicide of her husband, has left her with a deep, frightening stillness in her soul. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2003 by David Bonesteel
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice
The camera techniques and the subtle use of expression instead of words made me like this film. I found myself captivated by the movie and trying to figure out what she must be... Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2002 by A H Booches
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull
I thought I was watching a documentary, not a film
I guess I should appreciate the movie for its artistiuc merit but there are certain things about it that bothered me. Read more
Published on July 15 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars the psychology of loss
I first watched Kore-eda's film several years ago and was left with mixed emotions. Technically, I felt that the film was a masterwork, with some of the most stunningly composed... Read more
Published on July 14 2002 by James Chong
I've never seen such a powerful film. Mostly focusing on a series of scenes of everyday activities, it illustrates better than any other film I've seen the painful experience of... Read more
Published on March 2 2002 by somebody nobody
4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite Portrayal of Japanese Culture
This movie is the best I've seen that accurately captures the heart of Japanese psyche and its impact on culture that's so different than that of Americans. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001
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