Director: Takeshi Kitano
Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Ã”sugi
Synopsis: A police officer leaves the force in the face of harrowing personal and professional difficulties. Spiraling into a depression he makes questionable decisions.
Hana-Bi is a typical Takeshi Kitano movie in that it takes it’s time in telling its story and is filled with trademark long shots of his characters as they ingest, contemplate or reflect upon the things they see. Naturally, this means that many people will find it far too slow and introspective to be worth their while. For those who enjoy this type of deliberate character study, Hana-Bi will prove to be compelling viewing and shows Takeshi operating somewhere near the top of his game.
He plays Nishi, a repressed, uncommunicative loner who, nevertheless, creates strong feelings of loyalty and respect amongst his police colleagues. However, he begins a descent into depression following the crippling of his partner and the death of two colleagues, which prompts him to commit increasingly reckless acts in order to comfort his dying wife.
Doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, does it? And to be honest, it isn’t. It’s definitely not the type of film I’d want to watch if things were going badly for me – that’s what Jimmy Stewart and Zuzu’s petals are for. But, beneath the surface there is a more positive message to be found, as evidenced by the fact that Nishi only seems to find inner happiness and peace through the seemingly tragic circumstances that surround him.
(Reviewed 3rd February 2012)