Wednesday, August 21, 2013

LOST IN TRANSITION

I AM WAITING (Kurahara, 1957)
Joji is a former boxer, who gave up his successful career when he killed a guy in a bar fight. Saeko is lounge singer who thinks she accidentally killed a guy who wanted to turn her to prostitution. You'd think this connection would be ripe for a love story, but in Kurahara's noir, the characters are so over come by their own problems that romantic love seems almost impossible to contemplate.

Kurahara illustrated this personal disconnection through some striking shot compositions. First we see Joji staring off into the water, the water represents new opportunity - Joji later tells his doctor friend there's nothing left for him in Japan his future is across the sea in Brazil.  In this frame Saeko is approaching from Joji's restaurant, unsure if she should intrude on Joji's contemplation.



After a day at the boxing matches, Saeko's past catches up with her but Joji is able to scare the thug off. In the following scene we get a beautifully shot scene by the bay, where Joji and Saeko are silhouetted. They are lost unsure of where they're going and physically and mentally disconnected with each other. The scene ends with both staring off into the water, seemingly waiting for an answer to their prayers that never comes.




In this shot below, the two are divided by a diagonal line, with Saeko surrounded by the water and Joji in the concrete. In this scene Saeko is trying to make a connection but it fails. She has the power to do this because she's come to grips with her new identity. In the same scene we cut to an even more dramatic composition that shows just how far away Joji is from Saeko. Joji has some learning to do.




It's not until Joji reconciles his past that he and Saeko can even exist on the same plane. Often times films and stories use romantic love as a way of saving a troubled character. But in the philosophy of Kurahara's I Am Waiting, love has to wait until we are able regain our own individual identity. How can we love another when we don't even know who we are?

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