Directed by Okita Shuichi
Comedy / Drama, 129′
As Katsu san, a sixty year old lumberjack gets into the swing of strenuously chainsawing a tall tree, a nervous assistant director runs over through the tall grass. “Could you stop for a moment, as we’re doing a take” he asks, which results in a puzzled expression from the old man.
When he finally grasps the presence of a film crew shooting a scene nearby, Katsu sits down in silent curiosity. His request to begin pruning instead prompts a similarly confused expression on the assistant director’s face, before he hesitatingly approves.
This is the opening scene of Okita Shuichi‘s ‘The Woodsman and the Rain’. From that first moment of sincere and innocent humour, the viewer knows what they’re in for: misunderstandings, borne out of the different worlds in which the characters live; outside-the-box wit as the lumberjack becomes more and more fascinated by the realm of moving pictures; and simply laugh-out-loud moments, as the old man scolds the youngster for not helping and advises others to simply fire him, before becoming aware he is technically everybody’s boss.
The disinterested isolated from society working man encounters the young talented insecure film-maker. Through their characters, the director depicts the beautiful relationship between the serene naturalistic and the confusingly hectic modern, combining them in a successful symbiosis that allows them to complement each other to make up for their individual deficiencies.
At the same time, ‘The Woodsman and the Rain’ looks at the magic of film-making – from the struggles and insecurities of aspiring creative minds to the passion and enthusiasm for this curious craft, yielding endless inspiration, even if one is initially shocked to find a sincerely interested audience for a trashy flick about zombie holocaust.
Instead of stereotypically dragging close-up shots until even the unconscious would be able to make out the intended feeling, Okita builds the emotional impact of the film through wide establishing shots filled with poetically beautiful scenery.
Without the blatantly evident and obvious emphasis on what the scenes are supposed to emote, the film becomes a rather fluid and homogeneous blend of realism and fantastical dreaminess. It is an exploration of emotion at its purest.
‘The Woodsman and the Rain’ is a lyrical adventure through lingering landscapes and enchanting silence. In a simple story about human relationships that help the individual surmount their emotional dilemmas without overdone melodrama. Through the relationship of the old widower with the young director, Okita paints a picture of embracing one’s happiness and growing, drawing new strength and courage from unexpected encounters.
Refraining from transmitting some preachy profound message about the abolition of the past, the film portrays the possibility for nature and human to merge into a wonderful symbiosis, while also casts a glance on the magical realm of cinematic experiences and their ability to enrich the lives of both their creators and their audiences.
Review by Antoniya Petkova