Xavierpop Does @Shinsedai_Fest – Louis Reviews ‘Tentsuki’ 天使突抜六丁目
Tentsuki is an offbeat, surrealist film with equal doses dark humor and absurdity. Strange in the telling, it seems to relish in its characters and their quirkiness.
Noboru, upon discovering the company he works for is gone out of business, goes to collect some things from the office. While there, two yakuza guys that came for his boss decide having Noboru and no money is better than just no money. While on the run from the two, he discovers a drainage pipe and makes his escape. Once on the other side, he is helped by a high school friend who runs an apartment building. He meets his nearest neighbor, Miyuki, an odd woman convinced she is sprouting wings, a woman waiting for her dead husband to come home and a traffic guard obsessed with fossils. He begins a relationship with the Miyuki and this leads to events unfolding is some rather odd and strange ways.
Every time Noboru goes out, he seemingly gets lost in a maze of all too similar buildings. When he tries to return, he has the same problem. The crazy woman appears suddenly and at completely random times, only to disappear again. For a busy city, the streets are almost nearly deserted, though someone has decided they need fixing and the construction needs guards. The building he lives in has busted pipes, that seem to follow no real logic, as well as walls that tilt at times and are straight at others. While all of this is going on, Noboru tries to understand what is happening to him and around him. Circles play an important role as symbol, as both objects and places. Shot in a straightforward fashion, it makes the surreal that much more absurd, but it also makes it that much more amusing.
There is a great deal of symbolism at work in this film. There are some rather interesting and creative ideas at work, though not all of them come out well in the end. Not being a native Japanese speaker means alternating between seeing what is happening with reading. While in most parts seeing and reading isn’t an issue, some of the context and subtly of the language is lost in translation. Viewing in a theater with native Japanese speakers, I noticed their reaction during certain periods was markedly different than non speakers. While this is to be expected with most subtitled films, it happened often enough to give the impression I was missing something.
While overall a fun and quirky film, parts of it seems to be strange just so they could keep the weirdness factor high. This also well may be to language and cultural differences. Cucumbers are used in various scenes by different characters, and while in the west they can symbolize both sex and a phallus, there may be other symbolism not understood or readily apparent. This is a Japanese film made for Japanese audiences. It is hard to differentiate how much is just language and how much is weak points of the film.
Either way, a witty, surreal film that has it’s hero going in both literal and figurative circles.