Keiichi Kobayashi's ABOUT THE PINK SKY
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Ever since my own kids were young I have been drawn to films that don't treat teenagers like idiots.
It must be challenging for directors to walk the line with characters that balance childhood behavior with the actions of adults. Most teenagers aren't just big children. At the same time they are not just little adults. Portraying this grey area of adolescence requires skill.
This film succeeds in finding the right balance. The director has chosen a complex story fraught with moral ambiguity and frames it in the relationships of three teenage girls whose friendship and behavior reflect their complicated and evolving personalities.
We are given a ringside seat to the thoughts and behavior of young Izumi Kawashima who one day discovers a wallet stuffed with money. We watch and listen as she contemplates her actions. Return it? Keep it? Share it with her friends? The wallet belongs to a rick kid and Izumi's thoughts about the possible unsavory nature of the money's source colors how she deals with the money.
Her interaction with her friends as they walk about the town are by themselves worth the price of admission. They are variously goofy, serious, contemplative, catty, conspiratorial, and laugh-out-loud funny. The seeming ease with which these young girls perform is a sight to behold, especially the complex Izumi who is portrayed masterfully by Ai Ikeda. Watch her in the long takes as she talks and thinks with herself and others. You will be impressed.
Framing this all is some of the most attractive black and white photography I can recall. Somehow the director and photographer achieve a unique balance between crisp and sharp on the one hand and soft and dreamy on the other.
There are many delightful sequences, some laugh out loud funny, some understated or subtle. One of my favorites: Izumi tries to apply online for a late night chat service to make some extra money but has to impersonate her mom since she is underage. The interview is a realtime video session so Izumi must look and act the part. Her attempt to look and behave like an adult Japanese woman is positively hilarious.
The film is almost two hours long. It takes its time. And it's well worth your time and attention.
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald