Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jmovie review: Noriko's Dinner Table

The first Sono Sion movie I ever saw was Suicide Club (Jisatsu Circle). It was a very weird movie with lots of gore and I stopped watching halfway cause there was one scene involving cats I could not stomach and the movie seemed like shock porn.  Years later, I watched Love Exposure because it came highly recommended by TwitchFilm and it was four freaking hours of getting my mind blown. Since then, I've seen Cold Fish, Guilty of Romance and Himizu; non close to the brilliance of Love Exposure but always entertaining.

Noriko's Dinner Table has been mentioned a few times in the comments and I had to check it out. Its sort of a sequel to Suicide Club since it is set in the same world but is more similar to Love Exposure. I would even say that its sort of the beta version of Love Exposure with chapters of multiple character viewpoints, and characters slowly peeling back layers and everything coming together in the end.

Noriko's Dinner Table starts of with Noriko, a 17 year old girl living in a peaceful town suddenly finding herself in Tokyo and her chapter goes on to explain how she got there in the first place. The next chapter is about her sister Yuka played by Yoshitaka Yuriko and so on.

The middle of the movie is a much better version of Kazoku Kashimasu with twice emotional charge. Instead of playing it like a fairytale, Sono Sion uses it to explore the people playing the fake families than the people needing and willing to pay money for pretend families. It very much reminded of watching the first half of Audition, a subplot of a movie that is so fun that I wished the movie was just about that.

However, Noriko's dinner table is about much more than that. It is an exploration of many ideas like human relationship and how people seek them out but the exploration never feels shortchanged. *cough* DKR *cough* I don't know how Sono Sion does it. He writes damaged characters, puts them in absurd situations and creates great drama.

I absolutely adored 85% of the movie. Unfortunately, the ending was way too long for me. Sono Sion wanted to get somewhere but the felt it needed some bloodshed at the end. Actually I didn't mind the bloodbath but what followed afterwards took too much time the emotional charge had fizzled and by the time the ending scene came I couldn't be stuffed working it out. The movie is still 1 1/2 hours shorter than Love Exposure but the story lost me in the end.

As much as I want to, I can't put a must watch tag for Noriko's Dinner Table. Its like the WOWOW dorama Chase. Everything was perfect until the end and the first thought that comes to me is if only it had ended better. Its very much worth watching though. Acting and directing is awesome. Lots of brilliantly funny, moving and messed up scenes that only a director like Sono Sion and maybe Park Chan Wook can bring.  

Ahh screw it. Inserting the screencaps made me think about how brilliant most of the movie is. Flawed brilliance is still brilliant.


Antspace said...

Glad you decided to make it a must watch : )
I agree about the end, but I sat watching in awe for most of the movie! It was so much more interesting than 90% of movies being made. I loved how they made the fake family work, and how gritty and dark it got.

Kagami said...

Oh I haven't seen this yet.

But I agree about Suicide Club, that movie made me queasy. I regret watching the uncut version with the cats in the sack and the skin in the...... I wish I could bleach my brain.

I'll watch Love Exposure next.

Akiramike said...

Antspace, I love how the fake family thing spoke volumes without the need to spell it out for the audience.

Kagami, I stopped watching at the cats in the sack. I don't think I'll ever try to finish Jisatsu Circle.