KURO is one of the best films most of you have never seen. It is a film that rocked the cadre of film writers who saw it when it played Slamdance last year and everyone has been dying waiting for it to show up so we could see it again. Well the film is set to play MUBI on June 26 (go here to screen it) and you must see it.
Trust me this film has haunted everyone who has ever seen it and it is still spoken about with reverence. What follows is my review from Slamdance, but it doesn't do the film justice, this is one film you just have to see.
When I was watching KURO a couple of weeks back I didn't know what to make of it at first. The film is nominally a story being told by a caregiver to her lover while we see her day to day existence. It would seem to be straightforward except that things don't line up since the voice telling the story is never specifically spelled out to be the woman in the visuals while what we are seeing is not necessarily what is happening in the story - the result is a dark tale that once experienced is damn near impossible to shake.
KURO is a perfect example of why one should not read press notes or material on the film. The press notes will specifically tell you that the people in the film are the protagonists of the story, but if you watch the film blind as I did you quickly discover that isn't the case. There are inferences in the press material which may or may not be in the film. I mention this because I was never quite certain of what was what and who was who and it all became a grand glorious game to piece the film out.
The one thing that was in the press notes that is absolutely true is that directors Joji Koyama,and Tujiko Noriko (who stars as the woman) have made a film that breaks down any notions you have of narrative. The pair wanted to make a film that explores how we fashion stories in order to give meaning and order to our lives and we they have done just that. KURO with it's dual narrative structure forces you to seriously consider how you understand the world and everything in it. Because things are not clear in the film we genuinely have to piece things together which is what makes the film so incredibly powerful - which is why I don't like that there are possible pointers in the press notes.
The effect of seeing KURO is like having a whale slowly swallow you .What seems to be a happy tale slowly becomes darker and darker. While there is no doubt that it could be read as Romi revealing her mental space that is selling the film much too short. There is great deal going on in the story and in the images that make it one of the most oppressive films I've seen in a long time. Its a film that begins in a lovely garden and ends in a wasteland. When the film was done my first reaction was simply to ask- "what the hell was that?" Now several weeks later I'm (happily) still trying to work that out. The fact that this review is devoid of details is because I'm still trying to work out what I want to say and how I feel about the film.
What I do want to say, and what I feel I have to say is that KURO is one of the most effecting and affecting films I've seen in a long time. Its a film that sneaks up on you and clubs you from behind. Its a film that is not like anything you've seen, not wholly, not like this. Its as brilliant a film as you are likely to see. It is a film that is must see for anyone who loves great films- especially ones that chart new territory.
I have nothing else I can say other than KURO is the first great film I've seen in 2017.