Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura
Yoshihiro Nakamura’s complex and cleverly crafted 2007 film ‘The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck, and God in a Coin Locker’, brings a convoluted story to life in a way that will please viewers of intrigue. Combining multi-layered characters with a twisting plot, Nakamura succeeds in creating a film that might otherwise have been nothing more than an overcomplicated jumble of characters and stories.
‘The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker’ relies heavily on the strength of the writing to carry it forward, particularly with the characters of Kawasaki (Eita) and Shiina (Gaku Hamada). Eita gives an impressive performance, embracing both sides of Kawasaki. Initially cool and mysterious, he changes the character into one of shy eagerness and naivety later in the film, tying both halves of the story together without creating a jarring effect. Gaku Hamada plays the nervous and bookish Shiina well, although he lacks emotional engagement as the difficult nature of Kawasaki’s history unfolds. Nene Otsuka provides an extra layer of mystery as Reiko, feeding more truth and lies into the complicated story, and balancing out the wildness of Kawasaki with her calm demeanour.
Setting and lighting are minimalistic, focusing on pale tones, with almost film noir style interjections of Shiina’s imagination, and then warm, sepia toned scenes of the true memories of Kawasaki. Nakamura’s choice of simplistic backgrounds allows the complexity of the story and the character relationships to take centre stage, rather than being diluted by rich scenery. The choice to display the imagined memories in black and white gives them a staged feeling, which contrasts well the realism of the simple settings. The soundtrack, and the ever-present sound of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ create a beautiful and almost playful backdrop for the film, with Bob Dylan’s ‘voice of God’ bringing together Kawasaki and Shiina at both the beginning and the end.
‘The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker’ is not an easy watch – the story twists and turns and it is impossible to predict what is true and what is false, thanks to the deceptive nature of the characters and the skill of the writing – but the final unravelling of the story is well worth the wait for the patient viewer.
Review by Hannah Albone
You can now purchase this film in the UK courtesy of Third Window Films.