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The invisible woman

Concorso Internazionale - Yokogao

The invisible woman

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© 2019 YOKOGAO FILM PARTNERS & COMME DES CINEMAS

Koji Fukada’s films cut into the veneer of stability in Japanese society. The black comedy Hospitalité (2010) saw generosity pushed to an extreme as foreigners take over a house of a Japanese family who simply cannot say no. Harmonium (2016) is another type of home invasion as an acquaintance from years passed returns and becomes a disruptive force that pulls apart a nuclear family. Fukada puts his weight against the most vulnerable spots in Japanese society and watches it break apart. A Girl Missing, his latest film, pushes even further. By contorting familial and social dynamics in uncomfortable directions, what lies underneath is exposed. What should be said is left unsaid; what should be kept a secret is casually revealed.

Ichiko is a caretaker looking after a bedridden elderly woman who lives with her daughter and two granddaughters, a household of three generations in which she has become almost an extra member. Her nephew drops by as she is helping the two granddaughters study at a cafe. Soon after, the younger granddaughter goes missing. While the teenage girl returns safe, Ichiko is confronted by the fact that she knows the kidnapper. As heads turn away and the news reporters prey, we ask ourselves: ‘Who is the disrupting force in this story?’

The Japanese title Yokogao, meaning ‘side profile’, alluding to the irreducibility of a person just to their outward appearance. As her world begins to collapse, Yoko appears out of control, but her actions at times indicates otherwise. A unique portrait of person who becomes more unfathomable the more we get to know her.

Julian Ross
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