Far Away (2021) by Saki Cato
“Why are you always so selfish?
Winner of the Audience Award at the PIa Film Festival 2021, “In the Distance” follows the path of Japanese comedy/drama quite closely, however, making some very interesting comments over the course of its four acts.
“In the Distance” screens at InlanDimensions
Aki is an aspiring photographer who lives in the same apartment as San, a part-timer. They used to share a house with a mutual friend, but now live together, while
their friend has gone on a working holiday abroad, the tension stemming mainly from the former getting quite annoyed as the latter often seems to be picking up her mail from her room without letting her know. At the beginning of the film, Tadokoro, a man from the real estate agency in charge of their building, knocks on their door to communicate the complaints of some neighbors due to San’s loud playing of the accordion. In the end however, the two connect, as Tadokoro also plays the ocarina, and the two start playing, San changing the accordion for the triangle. Even more surprisingly, Aki also eventually joins them, as she plays the percussion. Soon, however, things take a much different turn.
In the second segment, San visits a friend who appears to have barricaded herself in her apartment, with the reason eventually revealed to be her boyfriend, whom she doesn’t want to see in any way. In the end, he manages to get in, and with San’s help, a rather unusual type of reconciliation, involving talks about insects and food, begins. In the third act, a mysterious girl appears to Aki, with the two beginning to connect over their literary tastes, though it is soon revealed that she has something to do with San. Food once again plays an important role. In Part Four, Aki loses a green stone her grandfather gave her, and she quickly blames San for the loss. His actions lead the girls to an inevitable confrontation, but in the end, San decides to accompany his roommate on a trip to the woods to find the stone. The ending, however, is anything but what they expected.
Saki Cato directs a quirky and tenderly funny comedy that revolves around a series of young people, each of whom seems to have their own problems and intense difficulties in solving them. The focus is obviously on Aki and San, whose rather different characters are the main source of tension in the film, though it only becomes palpable during the final act. As such, Aki is meticulous and stoic, and doesn’t have many friends, while San is lazy, carefree, and the kind of person who will befriend the real estate agent who comes to her house to complain about her. accordion play. . At the same time, however, and although San’s tendency to bring people to the house and take Aki’s correspondence creates a number of problems, she is also the one who is willing and able to look after and even solve other people’s problems, which essentially sees her as a more mature person than her seemingly quiet roommate.
Also, like the fact that everyone appearing in the film seems to share character similarities with each other, Cato’s main comment also comes to the fore, which is that people can reconcile if they just sit down and talk to each other, even if occasionally outside help or direct confrontation is needed.
Cato herself as Ako and Haruka Toyoshima as San present all of the aforementioned aspects quite realistically, with their antithetical chemistry being excellent throughout the film. Yosuke Kawamoto’s cinematography captures the small apartments in which the story takes place with realism, without particular elation, with the exception of the finale, which however seems somewhat disconnected from the rest of the narrative, as certain sci-fi elements come in mind. before. The editing gives the usual average rhythm of this type of Japanese film, which fits well with the general aesthetic of the title.
“In the Distance” is easy to watch, features interesting commentary, and overall is a pretty promising start for Cato.