BIRDS WITHOUT NAMES
Directed by Kazuya Shiraishi
Official Selection, 2017 Toronto International Film Festival
A heartthrob blackmailed into doing the bidding of a yakuza. A greasy construction worker who chews with his mouth open. A watch store manager tormented by wanderlust. And the young woman who can’t seem to keep them out of mind, out of sight, and out of her, respectively.
Towako (Yu Aoi) has a lot of free time, and when she’s not busy berating some poor retail worker over the phone, she’s switching between two modes – having sex with her new beau, and craving it from her missing ex-lover. Thrown in amongst this spiritual orgy is Jinji (Sadao Abe), her unlikely roommate and caretaker, who begins to lurk in the shadows of everywhere she goes. This, in conjunction with the mysterious circumstances surrounding her ex-lover’s disappearance, has her reconsidering whether his disappearance is really such a mystery after all.
BIRDS WITHOUT NAMES is so deeply disturbing, awry, and every so often deadpan over-the-top, that the only way to cope might very well be to laugh. Laugh inappropriately, at odd times, at odd beats. Laugh at the honest brutality of life that only a story about dark, lonely people driven to the edge can reliably force us to reckon with. –Thomas Jin