On suicide watch, with fireworks
THIS is a hard-hitting movie about suicide. The second feature movie by Japanese television series and commercials director Yoshio Kato, the story is about Happa (Kanji Tsuda) who starts an online suicide chatroom called Life Club.
In a rusty, no-frills cabin somewhere, he waits for his clients with a 90-centimetre fireworks ball. He has a plan to commit suicide together with members of an Internet suicide chatroom called Life Club.
The members enter the cabin one by one but the first three are shocked when No. 4 walks in. She is just a schoolgirl, Tsukiko (Honoka Murakami) and the three adults try to convince her not to kill herself.
Being treated as a child too young to die, she gets so angry that she pushes the button to ignite the fireworks ball. We see the beautiful fireworks explosion in the forest and sky. And the next scene shows Happa doing the same thing he did before the explosion.
This Groundhog Day effect goes on a few times, with the three adults trying to save the young Tsukiko. But every reliving is an opportunity for the adult characters to tell why they want to end their lives.
For example, Shinobu Tsuji is a mum whose son is killed in a car accident when she is at the wheel. She cannot forgive herself for that tragedy. Hence, her presence at this Life Club.
Happa relates how he lost an account for fireworks and landed into debt. So, he thinks killing himself will get his family the insurance.
The third adult, Baby Doll (Minehiro Kinomoto of TV series Kamen Rider W. fame), confesses about his inability to be a good doctor.
Tsukiko is a victim of school bullying, and as a consequence of that, she stole money from her mum. The pain of each character is intensely depicted by the camera and the actors themselves.
Through 3ftBall&Souls , the director offers reasons for living. A difficult subject, handled with a deft hand at storytelling. It is a heavy watch but the ending is worth it.
15th Japanese Film Festival
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Tsukiko, played by Honoka Murakami, being bullied by her school mates.