Saturday, January 17, 2004


One of the things I was doing this past week instead of blogging was watching (on DVD) the film Distance, directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu (who also directed After Life). It's a contemplative film with little action. Three years before the film starts, members of an Aum Shinrikyo-like cult perpetrated an act of mass murder. A group of relatives of the perpetrators, who are all dead (if it was explained how they died I missed it, but my impression was that it was suicide) gather every year on the anniversary as a memorial. This year, they encounter a former cult member by chance. The film, which consists largely of flashbacks, basically deals with the relatives' efforts to understand what caused their relatives to do what they did, and to come to terms with their grief.

It's a worthy effort, which portrays the cult members in a fairly sympathetic light, while not at all excusing or condoning their actions. But though I watched it until the end, I did so mainly out of a sense of duty. I actually found it pretty dull: there was little to distinguish most of the main characters from each other, and I didn't come away with any better understanding of either cultism or grief. Cinematically, it wasn't very interesting either.

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