Radiance (2017) - Naomi Kawase
A gentle, sentimental piece of filmmaking sure to frustrate the more cynical filmgoer, Naomi Kawase's Radiance is a quaint, personal drama about the human condition, deconstructing how an individual's perceptions and experiences often define who they are. A story centered around a descriptive video transcriber, who specializes in creating audio descriptions for films to serve the visually impaired, Radiance immerses the viewer into a world unbeknownst to so many, effectively showcasing the paramount nature which vision has, not only as it relates to practicality, but also to spirituality and ego- a force that shapes and molds an individuals inner-being through the perceptions of the world it provides. A former photographer who now serves as one of her panel members provides much of the conflict in this melodramtic story, an individual who has lost not only his professional livelihood but also his main mode of connection to the world. This once proud photographer is slowly and methodically challenged with starting his life anew in many ways due to his rapidly deteriorating eyesight, as he desperately grasps to find a new way to connect to the world around him. While the acquantanceship that unfolds between these two characters teases unncessary romantic implications that feel out-of-place and forced in an otherwise earnest film, Radiance remains pointed and resonant in its ability to showcase the profound difference between objective reality and subjective perception, as the film beautifully recognizes that our lives and experiences themselves, how we see the world, are shaped and modeled by individualist perception. While the video transcribor aims to provide this once proud pohtographer hope, intent on helping him regain his agency to see the world in new ways, he himself pushes her to recognize the paramount nature of being a transriber to those whom have lost their ability to connect to the world visually, asserting that one must be desriptive but never intrusive, allowing those without their eyesight to maintain and sculpt their own individualist perceptions through personal experience. What unfolds throughout the course of Radiance's narrative is a deeply respectful film which provides a unique and emotionally effective portrait of what mankind attempts to quantify as "the human experience", with Naomi Kawase providing a delicately crafted story that serves as a powerful reminder about the vast ways in which we can interpret the world through our perceptions
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