Friday, April 16, 2010

All Around Us (2008)

In Japan the critics couldn't understand why this film wasn't put up for the Oscar while Departures was. I can completely understand that feeling. I don't know if I agree, but I understand it.

This is the story of couple over the course of the better part of a decade. She works for a publisher and he is cobbler. She likes to plan everything, while he likes to go with the flow. He occasionally wanders, and while she doesn't like it she puts up with it because she loves him. As the film opens the couple is expecting their first child. At the same time he is offered a new job as a trial sketch artist. Over the course of the film we watch as life happens, as they lose their child, drift apart and try to stay together as the course of history happens around them.

This could almost be called Scenes From a Marriage, since that is what the film is. Its the course of the years on a very likable couple, who try to simply get by. Beautifully acted, the performances are so real I'm left to wonder if this isn't really a documentary. This is simply scenes in the life, we come in at a moment and then drift off to another. Volumes are not explained, but we never feel left out. Events play out over the course of the decade, the repercussions of the events, the death of the baby, are not quickly forgotten. Its an amazing slice of life film. And life is what the film is, its a very real, very breathing film. I know because I've been in some of these situations, I've said very similar words. The film is often note perfect.

This is gorgeous winning film that people really should see. Its as close to a representation of real life as one is likely to see.

How do I know this is a wonderful film? I put it on and the next thing I knew was the film was almost half way over. Its film that you fall into, it opens mid-action, and just drags you along. I love to start a film and not be aware that time has passed or that I'm watching a movie. The film just goes and there's no thought of reaching for the remote.

If there is anything wrong with the film it's that watching it one has to battle preconceived notions. Its a bad thing only in that you are forced to deal with the film getting to a certain point before moving on. We have been trained to expect a film to be a story with a beginning middle and end, but in this film life is happening and we're only pausing to watch some of it. To that end the end left me wanting more, what happens next, where do they go from here? There are no answers. Knowing that makes the second and fifth viewings so much better (I've seen this several times and it improves with each viewing)

Picking the opening question up I ask-Is this better than the Oscar winning Departures? I can't compare. The films are different. Comparing them isn't fair. It is at the very least its equal. Which do I like better, I think Departures, but thats purely a personal choice. What I think is that if you love good movies you should see this. If you want a great film that shows life you should see this, just don't expect to have all of your questions answered, because as in life you won't get it.

This was one of the best films I saw in 2009.

Actually I'm hard pressed to even call this a movie its so real.

This out on DVD in some parts of the world. I was told at last years New York Asian Film Festival that the film had been picked up by IFC for release in the US, however it wasn't clear if that was as a DVD release or into theaters. However it comes your way this is an absolute must see.

Addendum June 10,2010: Just discovered this is playing on an IFC pap per view service. If you can get it do so. If you can't put it on you list of films to watch for when they hit DVD since it won't belong bfore the much needed US release happens.

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