Ghosts who fell from grace with the sea

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

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,

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