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MARCH COMES IN LIKE A LION

Japan, 1990 (MIFF 1991)

Director: Hitoshi Yazaki

Ten years ago Hitoshi Yazaki made Afternoon Breezes, one of the finest Japanese movies of the 1980's, a quietly rapturous study of a lesbian infatuation. It has been worth the decade long wait for another feature from this remarkable talent. March Comes In Like A Lion tackles a taboo subject with exemplary candour and poetry. It's clear, delicate, direct and outrageously beautiful.

A girl who calls herself "Ice" collects a boy called Hauro from a hospital. The boy has amnesia. Ice tells him that they are lovers, and takes him back to the apartment she says they share. In reality though, Haruo and Ice are brother and sister and the apartment is a room in a short term housing tenement that she has rented for the purpose. Ice does everything possible to prevent Haruo from remembering the past. He gets a job on a demolition crew, while she casually prosititutes herself to supplement their income. They sleep together as lovers. Haruo's memory starts to return...

This could be the archtypal love story for the 90's; a picture about the tricks and traps of desire, and the courage and will needed to overcome them. Yazaki keeps dialogue to a minimum and trusts his images to say everything that words cannot. He also draws exquisitely nuanced performances from his lead actors Yoshiko Yura and Bang-ho Cho. Even when it glides into the characters' fantasies, the film has a piercing emotional clarity. It throws light on the dark places of the heart. (T.R.)"

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