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Japan, 1979 (MIFF 1980, Programme 68)

Director: Kaneto Shindo

Kaneto Shindo has been represented at previous Melbourne Film Festivals by such diverse works as The Island and Kuroneko and his latest film again veers off into a new area, the high-powered domestic melodrama.

His film opens violently with a son drunkenly rolling through a home until the bewildered father decides to kill him. From this time the film flashes back to describe the family's life leading to this moment and then beyond to the sickening reality of a mother who cannot bear to be without her son.

Shindo's description of middle class life in Japan and his acute depiction of family violence resulting from the ambition and indulgence of parents is handled most powerfully. This is a bitter indictment of the success-oriented values of this class. There is a particularly cogent scene where adolescents are interviewed about a fellow classmate's death and in their denial of responsibility, one can feel a savage criticism of the national ethos.

This cold and provocative film will not be to everyone's taste, but it does contain enough truth and insight to be continually engrossing.

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