THE WHISPERING STAR
Directed by Sion Sono
NETPAC Award, 2015 Toronto International Film Festival
An intergalactic delivery robot sits all of her days, years behind her spaceship’s console, traveling from planet to planet dropping off packages to humans who have been waiting over a decade for them. While the years have whipped the humans like beach wind chaffing skin, the robot has no real conception of time, agelessly pristine but also unable to appreciate the sentimentalism of an object traveling light years or the mean punch of memories faded.
And so she creates her own analog human world, a nostalgic ‘50s domicile rendered as a sci-fi cine-fantasy by director Sion Sono. Here, androids to dream, but they dream of a humanity lost even to the humans, who have been left to inhabit desolate coastal ghost towns. Sono shot these scenes in Fukushima, and nuclear ruin haunts the emptiness, the silence, and the survivors’ bodies, unable to muster a sound greater than a whisper.
Sono’s love letter to the last gasp of humanity, archived in the self-programming of artificial intelligence, is both bleak and breathtaking, as it is in another of his 2015 features, Tag. With THE WHISPERING STAR though, Sono takes a rare slowed pace, borrowing the cold eyes of an outsider non-complicit to the apocalypse to look out the window and imagine the life that was or still could be in a landscape that is as surreal as it is serene. –Brian Hu