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The Mourning Forest (2007)

Mogari no mori (original title)
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A care-giver at a small retirement home takes one of her patients for a drive to the country, but the two wind up stranded in a forest where they embark on an exhausting and enlightening two-day journey.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Yôichirô Saitô ...
Machiko's husband
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kanako Masuda ...
Mako
Machiko Ono ...
Machiko
Shigeki Uda ...
Shigeki
...
Wakako
Yûsei Yamamoto
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A care-giver at a small retirement home takes one of her patients for a drive to the country, but the two wind up stranded in a forest where they embark on an exhausting and enlightening two-day journey.

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Drama

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23 June 2007 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Mourning Forest  »

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
A Nutshell Review: The Mourning Forest
4 September 2008 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

Winning the Grand Prix of the Cannes Film Festival last year, I actually found it a tad difficult to appreciate this piece by Naomi Kawase, as compared to Shara. I am beginning to suspect that I have a profound disengagement with movies that deal with grief and loss, especially when it takes on a very detached approach in some ways with the characters constantly unable to deal with those emotions for the most parts.

The movie opened true to Kawase's penchant for capturing moving air. Here, we see lush greenery on tree tops dancing to the motion of wind, and vast open fields where blades of grass sway back and forth when caressed by the breeze. It's like watching a National Geographic episode of forests and greenery before the opening credits kicked in to start the film proper. I even suspected that M Night Shyamalan could have paid homage in his The Happening, which also had plenty of such shots put into it.

The story tells of the relationship that formed between Shigeki (Shigeki Uda) and Machiko (Machiko Ono), the former an old man in an elderly home who has been aloof after the lost of his wife some 33 years ago. 33 years is an extremely long time, and to miss someone for that long, well, you know how strong his emotions are to his wife. On the other hand, Machiko is a staff at the same elderly home, but she too is grieving internally for the loss of her son, and her husband squarely puts the responsibility and blame on her petite shoulders.

While initially starting off on the wrong foot with fiery misunderstanding, they soon hit it off in a game of tag in the great outdoors, where the camera pulls back to reveal again the large open spaces, and the two protagonists finding and connecting with each other, two tiny creatures in the space that Nature offered, only to act as a precursor of a more adventurous outing that would come soon after, in an excursion that took a turn for the unexpected when their car ran into a ditch.

In what seemed to be a wandering around aimlessly on foot deep inside nature herself, both Shigeki and Machiko had to depend on each other to keep to their wildlife tour, with the former having the objective of wanting to look for his late wife's grave, like a pilgrimage in itself. The observations from far earlier gives way to a more intimate look at the two, and Shigeki turned into some kind of enigma, clutching his all important haversack, as they go from set piece to set piece, some quaintly quiet, while others I seem to make no headway from sudden outbursts which persisted as being more whiny than anything else.

Might be a masterpiece for some to appreciate, especially with its beautiful cinematography, but everything else was certainly lost on me probably due to my lack of extreme patience, and I grief in not being able to be moved by this movie.


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