28 November 2013

Movie Review: Like Grains of Sand (Nagisa no Shindobaddo / 渚のシンドバッド)

Strangely I did not see this movie 20 years ago when it came out and I frankly can't tell why. My only guess is that it didn't make it immediately onto VHS and so I didn't have the opportunity.

It's very disorienting. The severe conformism that I expect to see in a lower middle class Japanese high school was present. But what I didn't expect what how homosexuality in a teenager is handled. The film does an excellent job of capturing teenage angst and awkwardness.

Ito (pictured above, right) is gay and has a huge crush on his best friend Yoshida (left in picture). Kanbara another friend of the two, is jealous at the intimacy between Ito and Yoshida and well tries to bully Ito. In the process of finding ways to torture him, he decides to spread "gay" rumors. To my own surprise, Ito refuses to deny (and even more mildly to avoid and ignore). His father caught him posting a gay ad for older men in the classified ads and sends him to a psychiatrist to be be "cured." Anyways, back to Kanbara and Ito. So Yoshida comes to Ito defense when the bullying gets a little intense. Alone, Ito confesses his intense crush on Yoshida. Then follows a strange and awkard hugging and kissing scene with Yoshida as ambivalent? Anyways, Ito befriends crazy-girl-in-the-class Aihara, who is a transfer student. Somehow Yoshida falls in love with her and a strange triangle is created that ends on the sandy shoreline of Aihara's ancestral village.

This is another one of the movies that would have been to have watched when I was in high school. It also reminded me that youth is wasted on the young. Much of the dramatic emotional expression was so foreign to me that I ended up dwelling on that separately in many scenes. The reactions I expected of characters was lacking. I didn't exactly like the ending, but like my discussion in Fujimi Orchestra, there is this thing in the Japanese psyche of romance/sexuality that is confusing.

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