Ten years after the Jury Prize was awarded to Like Father, Like Sonfive years after the Golden Palm was awarded to Shopliftersand only one year after he came to present broker, which was already in competition, 62-year-old Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is back at the Cannes Film Festival. This time, it’s with Monstera film about the relationship between a mother, her son and a teacher, where each protagonist gives his point of view on the plot, in the manner of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Rashomon. Monster should be no exception in its creator’s rich filmography, the film nourished by unspoken questions about family and childhood, treated each time with unique subtlety and restraint.
after I Wishthe story of two children separated by divorce, and Nobody Knowswhich follows four siblings left to fend for themselves in a Tokyo apartment, Like Father, Like Son looked at the fate of two families upended by the discovery that their 6-year-old sons had been switched at birth, a theme also present in Shoplifters. brokerthe filmmaker’s South Korean getaway, also revolved around parenthood.
“I’ve always enjoyed watching family dramas, both at the cinema and on television, so I’ve always wanted to do that,” Kore-eda – who began his career as a director of documentaries exploring social themes – told the audience of the specialized site Film4 in 2017. “But I’ve grown up with lots of family issues, and now that I’m married, we have issues too. So I wanted to focus on issues that are close to my heart,” he continued .
His work also shows a loyalty to places. For example, Monster was filmed in the former Johoku elementary school in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture, in the center of the country. The director is attached to this region which is prized for its lake and hot springs: “It’s where it all began,” he confided in February to the local daily newspaper Nagano Nippo. This is where, in 1991, he shot a documentary, Lessons from a Calfwhich recounts the experimental program set up in a school in the small town of Ina around the rearing of a calf, and, in 2012, the series Going My Homea family chronicle.
A critical look
The Japan that is revealed in Kore-eda’s films is far from the clichés and fantasies of ultra-connected megacities or rural areas with a traditional way of life. It is a “normal” Japan, which tourists know little about and which they discover by chance during their walks. The filmmaker knows the country well, having grown up in Nerima, a district in the northwest of Tokyo that was once renowned for its small-scale industry and agriculture, but also as a bastion of Japanese animation, and whose atmosphere is found in several of his films.
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