Contemporary World Cinema

Birds Without Names

Kazuya Shiraishi

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An unstable young woman pines for the old boyfriend who nearly beat her to death, in director Kazuya Shiraishi’s gripping tale of eros, deprivation, and desire.

This cinematic adaptation of Mahokaru Numata's novel features a powerful performance by Japanese star Yu Aoi, in the role of an unstable and depressed young woman. Ultimately a film about the extremes unrequited love can push people to, Birds Without Names is a unique work that defies genre definitions. Oscillating from thriller to melodrama, the film echoes Brian De Palma and Park Chan-wook with its vivid depiction of immoral actions and emotional turbulence.

Towako (Yu Aoi) lives with Jinji (Sadawo Abe), a man 15 years her senior. She doesn't love him but lets him take care of her. Jinji is a simple man, a blue-collar worker who supports Towako financially, cooks her food, and even provides for her sexual pleasure. But Towako cannot forget her ex-boyfriend Kurosaki (Yutaka Takenouchi). The love, the excitement, the good times with Kurosaki keep replaying in her mind and nothing and no one seem capable of filling her emptiness — not even the steamy affair she has with Mizushima (Tori Matsuzaka). One day a policeman arrives at her door, an ominous harbinger of sinister news: Kurosaki has been missing for eight years, ever since the day he nearly beat her to death.

Gripping storytelling matches the beautiful, yet grim, mise en scène. A tale of eros, deprivation, and desire told with desperate intensity, Kazuya Shiraishi's latest film takes the audience inside a dark labyrinth of criminal passions.

GIOVANNA FULVI

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