Sion Sono’s Melancholy “Himizu”

By Ismary Munet

Directed by Sion Sono in 2011, “Himizu” isn’t solely a story about how two Japanese teenagers bond in a society that’s falling apart. Made soon after the March 11th disaster, Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, it is also about coping with crisis or drastic changes.

It starts off with Keiko Chazawa (Fumi Nikaido), a young girl in middle school, standing in the pouring rain, among the desolate rubble, reciting a poem she has memorized, which gives a peek into one of the themes that the film embraces: “I know everything. Everything but myself.”

Sumida, played by Shota Sometani, is a 14-year-old boy who is simply okay with being ordinary. Abused by his father, and abandoned by his mother, he is left alone to care for his family’s boat rental business, and to be cared for by the hobos who camp out in his yard.

With the help of his vagabond friends, and Keiko, his obsessed and relentless admirer, the boat business gets a makeover and attracts some customers.

Though Keiko is wealthier, she too has issues at home. Her parents build her a nicely decorated noose they hope she will take advantage of one day.

“Himizu” is based on the manga of the same name. This heart-wrenching story allows viewers to question what adversity truly is, but still sends out a powerful message of hope. No matter who someone is, or what they’ve done, there is still a possibility of confronting the injustices committed, and becoming a respectable adult.

After spectacles of violence and tragedy, the film closes with Sumida and Keiko running through the pouring rain. As they cry and push themselves to their future, “You’re a flower, one of a kind. And you have a dream!” They continue to yell out and repeat “Don’t give up. Don’t give up! Sumida!”
Sono’s films have been underseen in the United States. For one week, March 14-March 20, The Film Society of Lincoln Center will be showing “Himizu” at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.

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