Monday, October 22, 2012
The Land of Hope (Japan; Sono Sion, 2012)
More tamed in content than the previous Sion Sono pictures that I have seen, The Land of Hope still manages to shock its audience with its inclusion of psychologically-questionable characters who all react differently to the omnipresent threat of radiation. Following the tsunami-caused explosion of a Japanese nuclear power plant in a small town, the lives of the Ono family are disrupted when their home becomes the cut-off line for the disaster's infected area, the radiation apparently unable to cross over yellow, "do not cross" police tape. This absurd treatment of radiation risk and containment sets the tone for the film's exploration of human reaction to invisible danger. From radiation phobia to the blissful ignorance of what can be assumed to be Alzheimer's disease, the film's characters all must learn to cope with both they're own fears and those of the ones they love. As families separate and villages grow deserted, the will to survive is continuously tested as individuals must learn to adapt to this inescapable result of technological 'advancement'. Beautifully shot as usual, Sono's latest effort is filled with low-key moments bursting with high emotion and sporadic humor that saves them from becoming all-out tragic. Finding hope in the most unusual places (even death), Land of Hope gracefully forces its audience to assume and confront their own views regarding one of today's most imminent geographical concern.