OVER THE FENCE
Directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Official Selection, 2016 Busan International Film Festival
Recently divorced, Shiraiwa hasn’t brought himself to unpack his boxes or take off his wedding ring. The only headway he’s made on a new life is to enroll in carpentry classes at a vocational school within biking distance of his lonely apartment. His classmates are in similar states of transition or trauma. One is on the verge of lashing out. Another haggles Shiraiwa to partner on a suspect business venture. On one such pitch session, Shiraiwa meets a hostess, Satoshi, whose erratic adorableness Shiraiwa can’t decode as victimhood or self-destruction – not unlike his own tortured state of post-partem funk.
They dance around something like a relationship, though director Nobuhiro Yamashita (La La La at Rock Bottom, SDAFF ’15) retracts before delivering the rom-com OVER THE FENCE almost is. Instead, Yamashita focuses on souls in limbo. Joe Odigari’s eyes lend Shiraiwa a look of perpetual sleeplessness, while Yu Aoi’s manic laughs layer hurt on Satoshi’s face. Together, they tip-toe around the idea of embracing and forming something perhaps bigger than they could be alone. Yamashita so baldly captures that stop-and-go sadness between a breakup and next steps. And though this might be his most forlorn film in years, it still manages to end up at a softball game with a lift-off that one can only interpret as hope. –Brian Hu
Writer: Yasushi Sato, Ryo Takada
Starring: Joe Odagiri, Yu Aoi, Shota Matsuda