THE LAND OF HOPE
NETPAC Award, 2012 Toronto International Film Festival
For decades, Sion Sono has invaded our sensibilities, exposed our lack of civility, and deconstructed our carnal repressions and moral compasses. As he did last year with Himizu, this master of cinema has found a new direction to point his signature sensibilities: fictional imaginings of the Fukushima disaster and its after-effects.
In the prefecture of Nagashima (an amalgam of Japan’s nuclear traumas), the Ono family is torn apart when an earthquake causes a nuclear meltdown. The government draws danger zones across the prefecture, going right down between the houses of two next-door neighbors: the Onos and the Suzukis. The elder Ono Yasuhiko (Isao Natsuyagi) makes the decision to stay in the “safe” zone where their home lies, while the Suzuki family evacuates. Sono captures the oft-surreal ways the government exhibits denial through their policy, discriminates across its citizenry, and causes mass nuclear fear, all while telling a touching story of two families and their struggles to stay united.
Sono (Cold Fish, SDAFF ’11; Love Exposure) builds the social horror through imagery flavored by hysteria, and then brings the audience closer to family through unexpected displays of loyalty and affection that only bubble to the surface at this moment of frenzy. Sono surrounds his brilliant actors with beautiful and tragic imagery and feeds them with wonderfully-written moments of conflict, loss, and resolution. –Phillip Lorenzo
Cast: Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Otani, Megumi Kagurazaka, Jun Murakami, Hikari Kajiwara