January 21, 2014

Ninifuni – Full Volume Version (2011/2012)

Smash hit teen girl band stars in a minimalist arthouse film.

Director Tetsuya Mariko, who broke into film festival fame with Yellow Kid in 2009, is one of the more interesting young talents in Japanese cinema. Ninifuni is a metaphoric 42 minute meditation on depression and death. The film follows a criminal (Masaru Miyazaki) who runs from the police and eventually ends up on the same beach where the pop band Momoiro Clover is shooting a new music video.

Mariko mixes art and pop, resulting in an original, though not entirely successful film. The film’s first half consists of waiting and wandering, and is almost completely void of dialogue. The storyline is actually based on a real life tragedy, but this could easily pass unnoticed by the viewer until the ending. Those viewers who fail recognize the film’s roots, and to get a hold of the protagonist’s mindset, may be left rather clueless for most of the film.

In the film’s second half Mariko constructs a somewhat clumsy but effective contrast between the lively teen girl business machinery performing on the beach and the human wreck hiding behind the trees. Surprisingly enough, and for better or worse, Mariko restrains himself and never lets the film into a a full pop music bloom, but instead opts for low-fi documentary style means.

For Momoiro Clover Ninifuni marks already the second fascinating and highly unexpected cinematic appearance. The band was previously seen in Koji Shiraishi’s hilarious faux-documentary experiment Shirome, in which (it was claimed) the girls performed without knowing they were in a fictional movie. Whoever is the girls’ agent deserves a big glass of beer.

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