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March Comes in Like a Lion

February 4, 2012

A moody piece of the lost decade

Sangatsu no lion (Japan, 1991)

An interesting film by Hitoshi Yazaki, produced during Japan’s “lost decade”. With its yellow colored images and sleepy atmosphere, it indeed captures some of the mindset of the era. Buildings are being torn down, people wander aimlessly, and even Tokyo’s streets appear strangely quiet. The two main characters are a man suffering from amnesia, and a woman who claims to him to be his sweetheart, but in reality is his sister.

It’s a beautiful movie with atmospheric music, some truly beautiful images, and the excessively adorable Yoshiko Yura. Yet, it’s also a film that very much requires the interest and mindset for something that is heavily downplayed both story and character wise. It lacks aggressive social bite as well as sharp and rewarding character/psychological focus.

At 118 minutes the film moves at very sedate pace. Despite the prologue stating March of a month of storms, these characters are merely floating in the water. The title of Nobuhiro Yamashita’s (more lively) feature length debut, Hazy Life, would more than suit Yazaki’s film.

Despite the strictly niche audience appeal, the film had a strong festival tour in arenas like Rotterdam and Berlin. The film is not to be confused with a manga of a same title, though.

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