Wednesday, August 2, 2023

RIVER (2023) Fantasia 2023

Junta Yamaguchi, who​ burst on the scene with the single take time loop film BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES, returns with the even better RIVER. Not told in a single take, the film tells the story of a small inn by a river which suddenly gets trapped in a two minute time loop.

No, you have not been here before. Yes, the set-up is similar to any number of time travel films, however the reality is this film is something completely different. Yamaguchi may repeat time, but everyone on screen is aware that time is repeating and try to sort it out. Also where and how it goes is completely unexpected.

And that is all I am going to say about the twists and turns of the film because you just need to see this without any clue as to what happens.

This is a brilliant piece of filmmaking. While anyone who saw Yamaguchi's earlier film knows he can beautifully craft a looping narrative, what they will not know, but will soon find out as soon as they see RIVER, is that he can create magnificent characters. This film is full of absolutely wonderful people. Here is a film where everything that happens hinges on the characters, and because Yamaguchi has created such wonderful people and cast them to absolute perfection we not only buy everything we are seeing but we fall madly in love with them.  I was so enamored by the staff of the inn that when I finished the film I wantied to search the place out and spend a week or two there.

What I love about the film is that once the board is set and the game begins everything is structured in such a brilliant way that you find your self leaning more or and more into the proceedings. Partly because you have to see how they work things out, but mostly because you want to see how it’s done. Where Yamaguchi’s previous film might be a single take, this film is largely a series of two minute takes. It’s the same two minutes relived over and over again, but each one going differently. How are the characters going to move this time? I can only imagine that the cast and crew canceled their gym memberships during the filming of the film because they were constantly running. Seriously how did they do this? What sort of planning went into it. (If there is a making of video I want to see it)

This film is a blast and a half.

I absolutely love this film. This is the very definition of cinematic fun.

When the film was done and because the film only had a single Fantasia screening, and because I want you all to hunt the film down, I emailed Third Window who is handling the film to ask them what the release plan is for the film. I was told more festivals and eventual theatrical and home video release. That works for me because it means word of mouth will build and the film will find its audience.

One of the great films of 2023.  With it Junta Yamaguchi cements his place as place I  the fast track to being one of cinema’s up and coming masters.

No comments:

Post a Comment