Review: Takara – La nuit où j’ai nagé (2017)

Takara – La nuit où j’ai nagé (2017)

Directed by: Kohei Igarashi, Damien Manivel | 78 minutes | drama | Actors: Takara Kogawa, Keiki Kogawa, Takashi Kogawa, Chisato Kogawa, Yûji Kudô

The opening of the Franco-Japanese co-production ‘Takara’ is deceptively moody. A man smokes a cigarette in the darkness of the night. The kitchen in which he is sitting is only minimally lit. Outside, a seemingly incessant snowstorm is raging. The subtle lighting ensures minimal visibility. The viewer sees what needs to be seen, what goes on in the image is up to the imagination. At some point, it seems like an eternity, he gets up and takes a car to what turns out to be his job. It all resembles a Scandinavian thriller, but the further course of the film takes a completely different turn.

Shortly after the man leaves for work at a fish market, leaving the perspective of the film at home, lovely piano music begins to play. A boy, my son Takara, takes over the image. The six-year-old boy can’t get to sleep and looks for a domestic adventure. Only, so deep in the night, there is not much to do. His sister cannot be woken up and the television does not offer any solace at this hour. Most of all, he misses his father. Only his own fantasy, in the form of his drawing skills, offers a way out of the waiting until dawn. The subject of his fantasy? The boundless depths of the sea and its inhabitants: the fish.

When the sun has finally risen, fatigue finally takes over. However, school is waiting. He has no other option but to let go of sleep and get on with his day. But, Takara concludes, he is too tired for school. He decides to skip school for a day. Maybe that way he can even pay a visit to his hard-working father at the fish market. However, the thick layer of snow and the constant urge to sleep form an annoying barrier to his freedom of movement. In the scenes related to slow cinema that follow, his quest comes to a standstill in a frenzy. His day off seems to be a pointless exercise. But at the same time, those scenes effectively expose his inner meaning.

Because the little guy is somewhere in the twilight zone between sleep and wakefulness all this time, the viewer delicately daydreams with him. The drama in ‘Takara’ is not great, but because of those long drawn-out dreamy scenes it comes close. The smooth editing, in which the clash between the image and what happens off-screen is effectively magnified, also contributes to this. The imagination of the spectator is therefore optimally used. Although the slow pace will not be for everyone, ‘Takara’ is a pretty intuitive and sympathetic (youth) film about a son’s bond with his absent father.

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