Director: Matsui Daigo
Screenplay: Matsui Daigo
Original story: Ozaki Sekaikan
Cinematography: Shioya Hiroki
Cast: Ikematsu Sosuke, Kurokawa Mei, Yamada Maho, Ando Sei, Shunsuke Daitoh Onoue Hiroyuki
Runtime: 106 min
Film’s official website: Jibun Bakari (日本語）
If definite answers are something you seek in films, then Jibun no Koto Bakaride Nasakenaku Naru Yo is probably not one to watch as it falls squarely into the slice of life genre and offers no more than a glimpse into the rather bleak lives of several characters, with many details unexplained. The film comes at feature length but is really composed of two and a quarter shorts, plus a longer centre piece story that loosely ties everything together as minor characters from one segment become the focus of the next one and previous leads make brief reappearances.
In the first story Kumiko (Ando Sei) earns her living by working in a brothel. At home things are more promising – the relationship with her boyfriend is on track to marriage and her family is doing well. Or so it seems, until her sister reveals a sudden shocker over the phone and her boyfriend (Onoue Hirokyuki) walks in, looking for something he left behind when they broke up two weeks prior. All kinds of truths start coming out, revealing that Kumiko is, in fact, stuck in a much bleaker reality.
Mie (Yamada Maho) – mieephyp0819 in the virtual world – is not much better off. She may have a proper job as an office lady (OL), but is either shunned or exploited by her co-workers, forever doing their photocopying or providing sexual favours for her married boss. Her only escape is the music of her favourite indie band, CreepHyp (who, in a meta-twist, provide the soundscore for the entire film), although everyone seems to want to take that away from her too: a fellow OL reprimands Mie for listening to music on headphones at work and her boss insists on overtime – preventing her from making it to a CreepHyp performance – when in fact the reports she is stuck with are not urgent at all.
Tsuda (Shunsuke Daitoh) is another CreepHyp fan, and as unable to function in society as Mie. He too is an awkward loner – possibly with some kind of mental impairment – , carrying around multiple discmans at the same time, in case he feels like smashing one of them. His story quickly merges into that of Rikuo, whom he meets at his temp work one day.
Rikuo’s segment is the longest of all four. Rikuo, played by Ikematsu Sosuke, the most famous face in this production, is a homeless young man, who lives in two small vans in a spot a little bit away from town. With him is a girl (Kurokawa Mei) who never utters a single word. Neither the relationship between the two of them nor what ails the girl – is she mute? does she just refuse to speak, out of stubbornness or trauma? – are ever explained, but there is clearly an odd and not always healthy connection between them.
Lacking money, Rikuo is perfectly willing to sell the girl off to a brothel (the same one that Kumiko works at), but then snatches her away before she can attend her first client. He is violently impulsive, dispensing both abuse (physical and verbal) and affection, while the girl passively accepts everything. Their story is the most challenging one as scenes can be difficult to watch, particularly because many questions are left unanswered. However, in my opinion, it is also the most intriguing tale, with Ikematsu delivering a particularly nuanced performance as a profoundly disturbed young man.
Matsui utilises a number of interesting techniques throughout Jibun no Koto Bakaride Nasakenaku Naru Yo. One segment is shot almost completely in black & white, another uses monologues with the speaker all in white in a white room to intercut scenes of interactions between characters, creating tension and mystery as we try to put the pieces together. While the cinematography is not always polished and music may not be to everyone’s liking (as the frontman of CreepHyp himself admits in another meta-reference his voice may grate on some people’s nerves), it hardly matters – the stories of these desperate individuals still shine through.
Although Jibun no Koto Bakaride Nasakenaku Naru Yo is not a fully polished piece and can feel somewhat unevenly segmented, the film-in-four-parts compels with raw stories of several individuals living a lonely and largely misunderstood existence on the fringes of society, with Ikematsu Sosuke providing a particularly intense and fine performance in the final tale.
- Jibun no Koto Bakaride Nasakenaku Naru Yo is not Matsui Daigo’s first film – his debut feature is「アフロ田中」 (Afro Tanaka, 2012), starring Matsuda Shota. Matsui also has had small roles in TV dramas, including the mini-series「小暮写眞館」(Kogure Shashinkan/Kogure Photo Studio, 2013).
- Q&A session with the director, plus Yokota Naoki (producer) and Daitoh Shunsuke (actor) from the Tokyo International Film Festival, where the film had its world premiere.
- As far as I am aware, there are no other reviews of Jibun no Koto Bakaride Nasakenaku Naru Yo available online at the moment, at least not in English.