Ghosts who fell from grace with the sea
Spiritual road trip: Tadanobu Asano and Eri Fukatsu
JOURNEY TO THE SHORE Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Starring Tadanobu Asano, Eri Fukatsu. Club, IFI, Dublin, 128 min Kiyoshi Kurosawa first came to prominence as a master of J-horror, having presided over such voguish international hits as Cure (1997), a splendidly chilly serial killer thriller, and Pulse (2001), the only haunted internet feature to ever play in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Last year, Kurosawa returned to that same competition with Journey to the Shore and was named best director for his efforts.
A Buddhist riff on the subgenre that gave us Ghost and Truly, Madly, Deeply, this supernatural romance concerns Mizuke (Eri Fukatsu), a grieving piano teacher who continues to mourn her dentist husband, Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano), some three years after his disappearance.
When he suddenly returns from beyond the grave, Mizuke’s first reaction is to scold him for his recent inaccessibility and for entering their home without removing his shoes. The pair then set out on a road trip of sorts, where they meet other dead people with unfinished business.
The cinematography by Akiko Ashizawa ensures that their vacation is always lovely to behold, but almost everything else about this odd, elliptical drama is frustrating. The plot is muddled and the rules are confusing. So everyone can see the dead? Are Mizuke and Yusuke helping the departed souls they encounter, or merely outstaying their welcome?
There are moments – not enough of them, mind – when Journey to the Shore’s central couple could – with a squint – pass as the A-Team of the undiscovered country. Mostly, however, this melancholic mood piece is composed of downtime, gentle marital bickering and vaguely outlined revelations. Another woman is mentioned. Suicide is hinted at. Nothing comes from these potentially interesting plot points.
Similarly, Yoshide Otomo and Naoko Eto’s grandiloquent score promises melodramatic developments that never arrive. A maddeningly spectral ghost story. THE SILENT STORM Directed by Corinna McFarlane. Starring Andrea Riseborough, Damian Lewis, Ross Anderson, Kate Dickie, John Sessions 16 cert, limited release, 98 min Films are labour-intensive affairs. Any number of seemingly insignificant calibrations can be off and suddenly everything is wrong. A case in point is The Silent Storm, one of those projects that manages to make its normally reliable stars sound like busted kazoos.
Damien Lewis is Balor, a minister of the old school, dispensing fire and brimstone toward the locals and his pale,