by Roderick Conway Morris

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A Document of Light and Shadow

By Roderick Conway Morris
VENICE 1 December 1995


Maborosi directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Yumiko (Makiko Isumi) is a young mother of a new-born child whose apparently cheerful and balanced husband (Tadanobu Asano) inexplicably throws himself under a train one night. Five years later, through kindly intermediaries, a marriage is arranged with Tamio (Taka-shi Naitoh), a widower with an 8-year-old daughterwho lives in a small fishing village. Yumiko's apparent passivity and fatalism hides a deep well of mourning that remains, we come to realize, tragically unhealed. The 33-year-old director of this remarkable debut feature film describes it as a 'document of light and shadow,'and has succeeded in producing a work of depth, subtlety and power, which displays an exceptional mastery of the use of film to reflect internal emotions. His achievement is particularly notable in that he carefully avoids obviously picturesque settings, which ultimately lends the gradually emerging, half-glimpsed moments of beauty -- the light shafting into a room, the sea washing over a distant rock -- that herald Yumiko's recovery, an unexpected force. Chen Ming-Chang's excellent score add the final touches to this unsentimental but moving experience.

First published: International Herald Tribune

© Roderick Conway Morris 1975-2024