Fifteen year old Sumida lives with his mother in a small shack where they run a small boat rental business on the outskirts of town. His mother completely neglects him, paying far more attention to the television than her own son. His father is never around, only routinely showing up to ask for money and berate Sumida, sometimes beating him until Sumida turns over the little money he has. Sumida is a teenager who just wants the chance to be something more than a complete waste of human life like his parents. He doesn't dream big, he just hopes for an ordinary life in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Sion Sono's Himizu is a film meant to inspire not only the youth of Japan, but a nation which in the aftermath of the tsunami, is facing major obstacles. Sumida's story of perseverance symbolizes the country of Japan, a boy who has been beaten down by everything around him to the point where he wants to lash out, yet ultimately learning that he is in control of his own destiny. The behavior of his parents seem to symbolize the disinterested elite in a country which sorely needs them. While Sono's message about perseverance is a strong one, I would argue that Sono goes a little overboard in shoving the message down the viewers throat. From Sumida's teacher who continually tells his students "You are one and only flower in the world", to the very end where Sumida repeatedly screams "Don't ever give up" while images of the aftermath of the tsunami are shown, the film lacks subtlety. Typical of Sono's films there are quite a few inscrutable characters that really slow the pace down. These characters on top of bloated storyline make the film about 30 minutes longer than it should have been. From a visual perspective there is lots of nice imagery, with Sono really capturing the emotions of not only these main characters, but of a nation. Himizu is a film that wears its message on it's sleeve and while the film is a bit overlong and lacks subtlety, it's a strong message from a strong filmmaker.
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