Friday, April 12, 2024

A Journey in Spring (2023) NDNF 2023

An older couple go through out their day. She works, he repairs the sink at home. When she passes away, he tells no one and remembers their past.

This is a memory play where everything is told in the physical actions rather than the words. Dialog is at a minimum, largely in the flashback memories, so what we are clued into the feelings and emotions is all through how the characters move. Any dialog ends up being commentary on the emotions of the largely wordless now sequences. (Though at the end we realize that everything but the beginning and end is a memory)

This is a beautiful looking and very deliberate film which you will either love or hate depending on your feelings toward the pacing and reflective nature of the film. This is where not a lot happens even though a lot of emotion is kicked up as one man contemplates his relationship to his wife. For some this is going to be manna from heaven and for others this is going to be close to watching paint dry. This is best described at moving at the speed of life.

For me the film was a mixed viewing experience. While I was okay with the pacing, my feelings for the film dissipated toward the conclusion. I say this because there was this moment toward the end where I realized that this was not going to have a big pay off. Emotionally there isn't enough here.

The problem is that the film plays as if it's a feature version of a short story. Short stories, and short films, have a rhythm all their own. Because of their brevity they can  show us moments, or pieces of a story, or even have endings that leave us hanging. Watching A JOURNEY IN SPRING I frequently could hear the voice of a short story narrator telling us the story. The ending, when it came could have been dead on perfect for a film a third of the film's length but not for something running 90 minutes.

Mirroring a short story in a feature can work, Ryusuke Hamaguchi's EVIL DOES NOT EXIST is a cinematic short story in feature form and it works with devastating power. However it takes more than simply stretching  a story to feature length.

While there is much to love in the film, the look and performances, A JOURNEY IN SPRING is a film best seen by an audience who can connect to it's deliberate pacing.

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