There’s a languorous pace to this small-town drama from Japanese director Naomi Kawase, though it starts with the shocking image of a heavily-tattooed man drowned face down in the crashing surf. After that everything settles down a little into a story of a young man Kaito (Nijiro Murakami) and woman Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga) getting to know one another, cycling home from school, hanging out with their respective families, every so often flaring up with a little hint of some deeper, buried emotions. It’s a narrative which follows the crashing of the waves on the shore, as the title suggests, and fans of pathetic fallacy will find plenty of it in this film. It’s also deeply imbued with a sense of the spiritual dimension of nature — Kyoko’s dying mother, for example, is a village shaman, and there’s an almost mystical dimension to the ancient banyan tree outside their back door, as indeed there is to much of the film. Yet none of this is forced by the film (the trailer is another matter entirely). It reminds me of Terrence Malick’s vision of war in The Thin Red Line, a film far more about man’s relationship to nature than it ever was a story about war. Here we have a different genre (the coming-of-age film) similarly refracted through a story of two humans within a larger system. There’s still a certain underlying portentousness, but it’s matched by a simple lyricism that I at least enjoyed.
Director/Writer Naomi Kawase 河瀨直美; Cinematographer Yutaka Yamazaki 山崎裕; Starring Nijiro Murakami 村上虹郎, Jun Yoshinaga 吉永淳; Length 110 minutes.
Seen at Curzon Bloomsbury, London, Sunday 5 July 2015.