Conceptually speaking, Ryosuke Hashiguchi's Hush! could easily be imagined formally as standardized romantic comedy and yet the film's intentions are far more insidious, being a repudiation of the traditional modes of social construction in Japanese society and the debilitating effects it can have on youth in search of their own identity. The three central protagonists of this film all come from families which don't adhere to normative Japanese culture, and throughout the film's narrative, their search for individual modes of expression and the semblance of identity in a repressed culture is exhibited through astute directorial precision and cunning comedic devices that expound the virtuous path of living free of the restrictive and forced ideas of living elicited by traditional Japanese culture. These characters have transcended adolescence and entered into adulthood and yet stability feels consistently at arms reach, and yet through the chaotic three-pronged relationship, they eventually find a semblance of identity and differentiation from the monolithic culture that has long defined them and forced them into a place of degradation due to prescribed notions of worth and expectations cast by the majority. Outside of three principle leads - all of which feature complex characterizations - the film perhaps expounds its theme most explicitly through the side character of Nagata, a woman who doesn't even realize how much she is a slave to tradition and societal expectation. Her characterization is so deeply tragic due to her inability to recognize much of her pain comes directly from her lacking the focus to tap into her own individualist desires - she has very little screen time but her plight is relevant at excavating the theme and placing it directly into the text of the film. She exists largely on the periphery yet her struggles are completely synonymous with our principle trio of protagonists. An incisive look at modern Japan, Ryosuke Hashiguchi's Hush! is a wonderful story of individual progression, a film which is full of pain & suffering but also carries a consistent semblance of hope - the weight of traditional and social expectation is felt by all its post-adolescent characterizations, representative of a generation looking to forge their own path towards finding happiness in life.
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