A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE
Directed by Shunji Iwai
Official Selection, 2016 Seattle International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 New York Asian Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival
After a decade dabbling in documentary, horror, and animation, Shunji Iwai returns to the milieu that made him one of Asia’s most beloved and influential directors: the world of young people, especially young women, wading luminously into uncharted waters. His soft-focus romanticism and dizzying camerawork return in A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE, a work that dodges genre expectations the way its characters slip in and out of our grasp.
Nanami (a fantastic Haru Kuroki) approaches the world timidly, barely clutching the microphone she uses to teach her junior high school students, or softly raising her hand in a crowd to draw the attention of a date she met online. Her tentative approach though translates into a series of white lies that start her marriage, lies that somehow court the company of darker ones. Before long, she is at the mercy of a chameleon-like fixer-upper she’s hired and embroiled in layers of deception and danger.
Yet Iwai doesn’t settle for the usual intrigue of the mystery genre, instead using the cruelty of the uncertain to portray a person who learns to become more assured of herself as the world around her becomes increasingly unhinged. It’s testament to Iwai’s command of tone that he’s able to curtail the flashier aspects of suspense and show how a woman who switches five jobs and three families by the film’s halfway point can ultimately fall gently, like pillows on a fluffy bed, into a harmonious and comforting sense of self. –Brian Hu
Writer: Shunji Iwai
Starring: Haru Kuroki, Cocco, Gô Ayano, Sôko Wada