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By Allen White | March 22, 2000

This film’s pace is not defined by Western, Hollywood standards of timing, plot, and revelation. Rather, it is assembled via slow accretion of character detail. The cast worked with director Nobuhiro Suwa to improvise the scenes, and the result has a documentary flavor, and at times, even feels almost voyeuristic in its relentless pursuit of objective realism. The only downside to this process is that at times certain moments feel like watching paint dry, yet that side effect is simply due to the fact that most people’s real lives are also packed with bland routine that most filmmakers would never seek to capture. Many scenes are simply one, long shot, and often depict the characters having basic back-and-forth chatter that in and of itself is uninteresting, yet like pieces of a puzzle, reward patient viewers with an overall picture that provides deep and realistic insight into honest, plainspoken human emotion and behavior. It’s a brave kind of filmmaking when a director is willing to wait for these moments to take as long as in real life to build, over long stretches of quiet minutes, and it takes a real fan of film-as-art to sit through it. If you like Andrei Tarkovsky’s pacing and Mike Leigh’s style of directing actors, you’ll be treated to the kind of subtlety in this film that most other filmmakers are afraid to even attempt.

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