Monday, February 1, 2021

Letting Go

Moving (1993) - Sômai Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 6.22.43 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 7.03.17 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 7.03.42 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 7.27.29 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 7.28.56 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 7.36.57 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 7.59.56 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 8.27.10 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 8.33.11 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 8.34.07 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 8.36.12 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 8.37.39 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 8.12.21 AM Screen Shot 2021-02-01 at 8.14.09 AM A wide-eyed, bouncy 6th grader Ren (Tomoko Tabata) is not taking her parents’ separation well. At first, she doesn't quite get her father moving out of the house, which 3 of them shared. It slowly dawns on her that it will never be the same way again. Shinji Sômai's separation drama from a child's point of view takes place around Daimonji fire festival in Kyoto in the height of Summer. And it's a beauty.

Ren's displeasure with her situation manifests in classroom disturbances as she picks fights and starts a fire in a science lab. Her mother, enjoying her freedom for the first time, makes unilateral decisions and breaks her own written up house rules (constitutions they call it). Ren frequently runs away from home and spies on her dad outside his glass office building. Her plans to bring her parents together doesn't quite work, since they are quite selfish and have grown apart over the years.

After some violent incidents, Ren devises another plan, giving it a last shot at reuniting her estranged parents. She would arrange a trip to the Lake Biwa, just like they used to during Daimonji and her mom reluctantly agrees. After they get there, seeing it's impossible to reconcile their former happy family, Ren runs away and it turns into a journey of self-discovery and growth.

Moving works largely because of Tabata, a cat eyed child actor not afraid of delving deep into physical and emotional journey of acceptance and letting go. Sômai's always moving camera, doesn't lose focus on the young heroine and never gets bogged down in cheap sentimentality. The almost silent long sequence two-third of the way where Ren gets herself lost in the forest at night, is breathtaking.

Parents, however selfish, are not monsters and do care about you and love you. Sometimes it doesn't work out. It might be hard to grasp for a 6th grader. Children still can count more good memories with their hands and run out of fingers than old people do. Accepting that they can keep only a handful of those memories is tough. Using the backdrop of fire festival and the power of burning and renewal, Moving is an infinitely wise and beautiful film about growing up.

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