The Village (2023)

The Village (2023)

The past haunts the present in this tale of loss and preservation of a village

6.7

Movie

Japan
Japanese
Drama
2023
MICHIHITO FUJII
Arata Furuta, Daiken Okudaira, Hana Kino
120 min

TLDR

Bullying this man while your village is turning into a landfill is...a choice

What it's about

A young man living in a remote village must confront his past and the future of his community when his childhood friend returns.

The take

Yu Katayama lives in a remote village with a garbage disposal business that's slowly turning into a landfill. When his childhood friend Misaki Nakai returns to the village, she encourages Yu to make a better life for himself despite his mother's gambling and the village ostracizing him. The Village is a slow-burning film interested in Yu's struggles as an outcast and in discussing the takeover of small villages for capitalistic industrial motives. The film is shot beautifully with dark, brooding visuals and lingering shots of Yu's quiet intensity throughout the film. Unfortunately, secondary characters are not fully developed outside of their interactions with Yu, causing the film to feel flat outside of pivotal moments. An evocative idea with parts more memorable than the whole.

What stands out

The film begins with the striking traditional dance-drama performance, Noh. The crescendo of tension, music, and a fire that grows wild creates a trance that dominates the screen. Yu's connection to the tradition strikes an emotional chord that isn't replicated again in the rest of the 120-minute runtime. Even though his change for the better includes him finding solace in Noh, it never recaptures the magic of the opening. When another rendition of the performance happens later (although brief), the film manages to marry his emotional turmoil and the necessity to preserve endangered cultural assets, showing a sliver of what the rest of the film could've been.

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