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Review: Haruneko

Saw Haruneko, the the last of the three kinda, sorta cat-themed movies screened at the Japan Cuts festival. The program described it as avant-garde, though I don’t know if I’d go that far: it features a not-entirely-unconventional plot structured around traditional ghost story tropes, though it is quite experimental in its execution and style. Director Sora Hokimoto blurs the boundaries between past and present, reality and performance, and life and death by cutting seamlessly between lush locations and impressionistic studio sets, allowing his characters to literally wander into memories, flashbacks, and fantasies as they confront the demons lurking in their own dark hearts.

I would speculate on the deeper thematic significance of these techniques, but Hokimoto (who was present to introduce his work) specifically requested that the audience “feel” the film, rather than overthinking every little detail, and I’d like to respect his wishes. Also, I’m extremely tired and have to be up early for work. I’m sure I’ll pay for my decision to take in a late show in the morning, but for today, I’ll say it was well worth the pain and fatigue.

[Originally written July 16, 2017.]

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