So last night I got a chance to watch Parade (2009), a Japanese Indie film based on an award-winning 2002 novel by Shuichi Yoshida, directed by Isao Yukisada, starring Tatsuya Fujiwara (Naoki), Karina (Miki), Shihori Kanjiya (Kotomi), Kento Hayashi (Satoru), and Keisuke Koide (Ryosuke). The film caught my ultimate curiosity because Fujiwara is part of the cast. You may remember him from his memorable & popular lead as Light Yagami from Death Note (2006) the live action film, as well as Battle Royale (2000) and Kaiji The Ultimate Gambler (2009). After sitting 2 hours straight watching this film while sipping on some delicious hot chocolate mix with condense milk, I came to a conclusion about this film in four words…. I DON’T GET IT!
Basically the story is about four Japanese youths (mostly in their mid 20s) who share a two bedroom apartment in a corner of Tokyo. The film is broken down into four parts where it focuses on the lives of each individual characters, the four roommates: Ryosuke a male student with no evidence of any drive, Kotomi an out-of-work aspiring actress who longs for a celebrity boyfriend, Miki a heavy-drinking female illustrator, Naoki a health freak who works for a film distribution company and Satoru a male prostitute with a spectator attitude towards life who randomly moved in. While there’s an assault case happening in their neighborhood, Naoki and Kotomi suspects it could be Satoru the new guy who just started living with them. (That’s right…a MALE prostitute, you would think that because there are many AVs in Japan as well as female prostitutes doesn’t mean male prostitutes don’t exist.)
The pacing of this film is very slow as it digs into each character’s life whether it’s a love, family, life or psychological issue. Note, if you don’t pay attention specifically to their dialogues you will NOT get the ending AT ALL. I swear I had to skim through the film the second time to understand it….kind of. The story is pretty scattered, it didn’t focus on every character in depth as I anticipated to be, and it certainly didn’t focus on a specific genre. The director surely left out a lot of details up in the air. For example, the film was leading towards romance but then it wasn’t, then it was leading towards comedy, but it got too serious, then it became a slight thriller, but it was kinda dissolved near the end. I’m not going to give much spoilers away, but here’s what I don’t understand….why would Ryosuke cry and randomly reminisce about his dead father after having the greatest sex of his life with this beautiful girl? AND why the hell did Satoru sneak into someone’s house JUST to masturbate?? I don’t get it!!!!!! By the end of the film I just completely went, WTF???? Seriously even as a filmmaker I just didn’t get the ending at all and while I like the cast and light humor the director puts in this film, the story didn’t tie in so well. So yes the story development was kinda bad. However, while the story itself was confusing and didn’t deliver very well, I like the choice of casting, playful humor in each character, and camera movement was overall CLEVER. I think it’s becoming a playful trend in camera movement where a scene looks like a flashback, but as the camera pans it turns back into the present time without a cut or transition. I notice the TVB drama Twilight Investigation 囧探查過界, the director and camera operator loves to use that technique in every episode, which is very creative, clever and fun.
Overall, I would give this film 3.5 stars out of 5. It’s a really nice indie film to watch on a Tuesday night while sipping on some hot coco. This film was screened at the 2010 (60th) Berlin International Film Festival and won the Fipresci Prize (I have no idea what kind of prize that is but I assume it’s GOOD). Also, the last WTF thing I thought about this film was the trailer itself, which is totally misleading! Well then again….DUH because that’s the whole point of a trailer, it’s suppose to grab your attention and curiosity and make you want to watch it! DAMN YOU EDITOR!! You did a good job! 😛 Check out the trailer below, maybe you should give this film a try and then you tell me if you get the ending and the overall story or not.