Director: Takeshi Kitano
Fans of Takeshi's two films prior to this (Violent Cop and Boiling Point) must have had their expectations confounded! After his relentless explorations of renegade cops and pitiless Yakuza, to come up with a Japanese surfing romance?! A Scene at the Sea is such a delight that it seems uncomplimentary to describe it as sweet, gentle and melancholy. It is all these things, in the extreme, but forget all the cliched connotations of the words. The film is genuinely tender, minimal but beautiful and guaranteed to creep into your heart and hold a place there forever.
Teenage garbage collector Shigeru is deaf and mute, as is his lovely little girlfriend Takako. When Shigeru finds a cheap, snapped surfboard in the trash on his rounds, he resolves to repair it and acquire all the skills he needs to become a surfing champion. The film is almost without dialogue - simple in construction and reflecting the silent world of the protagonists - but manages to communicate immense emotion without ever becoming saccharin. Ignoring the scorn of his friends and the cruel criticisms of the hip surf set, Shigeru, with the outright devotion of the sublime and saintly Takako, begins to realise his goal. His natural ability is recognised by an established surf star who soon takes the role of mentor and benefactor.
A sparkling Japanese summer, the natural beauty of the beach setting, the warmth of the characters and Takeshi's visual and script understatement make A Scene at the Sea a fantastic rediscovery. It is a work which puts the director's versatility, ingenuity, gift for observation and affecting detail clearly on display. A profoundly moving film and a minor masterpiece.