The story of a single mother who suffers from double vision; caring for her baby is a nerve- wrecking task that eventually leads her to a nervous breakdown. She is suspected of being a child abuser when things get out of control and her baby is taken away.
Festival veteran Shinya Tsukamoto has earned a devoted cult following for his unnerving explorations of the intersection between body and technology, as seen in his Tetsuo films and works like Tokyo Fist and Nightmare Detective. Now the Japanese genre master delves beyond the flesh and into the mind, in this case that of a deeply disturbed young woman.
Kotoko opens on a beautiful young girl dancing by the ocean with wild abandon. A blood-curdling scream breaks this idyllic scene as the girl disappears from sight.
Kotoko (Cocco) holds a fragile grip on reality. A young mother, she fiercely protects her son from what she imagines are constant predatory threats. Even when her infant boy is in her arms, Kotoko envisions death around every corner. As fantasies overwhelm her, she is forced to give up her son and face her manic highs and terrifying bouts of paralysis alone. She cuts herself, hoping to feel her body and jump-start its instinct for survival. The sudden appearance of Tanaka (Tsukamoto), a novelist who has followed Kotoko’s deterioration from a distance, offers momentary relief before her instability overwhelms her.
Using voice-over narration and whirling camera work, the film’s style mirrors the trajectory of Kotoko’s own increasingly fractured perception, which is plagued by confounding apparitions, scenes of horror and surreal nightmares. Tsukamoto’s subjective approach is gripping and relentless. Small spaces and claustrophobic compositions leave no room to escape. As Tanaka, Tsukamoto gives a subtle and at times gutting performance. The film’s star, Cocco, is an alluring Japanese singer in real life — the perfect fit for the part of Kotoko, for whom singing is a release from mental anguish. With her haunting melodies and visceral understanding of madness, Cocco fully inhabits this tortured role.
In this tightly crafted, sharply edited and visually startling film, Tsukamoto creates a harrowing vision of a world where nothing you see can be trusted. –TIFF
Constant comparisons to such distinctive celluloid experimentalists as David Cronenberg and David Lynch may give the uninitiated an idea of what to expect aesthetically and thematically from the works of renegade Japanese filmmaker/actor Shinya Tsukamoto, though as complimentary as they may be, the comparisons ultimately don’t do justice to the remarkably original and frantic essence of his hauntingly jarring cinematic nightmares. From the cringe-inducing, hyper-kinetic body horror of Tetsuo: The Iron Man to the creeping deliberation of Gemini, Tsukamoto’s intriguing body of work has isolated critics and audiences while building a strong fan base who share his technophobe paranoia and cyber-punk sensibility.
Born in Shibuya, Tokyo, in 1960, Tsukamoto found inspiration early in his childhood from the television series Ultra-Q. Making his directorial debut via Super-8 film around the age of 14, the future director later found creative outlet in painting and theater. Briefly putting… read more
This might just be Tsukamoto's most sad,depressing,heart wrenching and beautiful film yet, with all his characteristic bizarreness intact ! an unsettling and delectably absurd allegory on a mother's love for her child and the maddening extent to which this sense of love,protection,care and the resultant possessiveness can manifest ! an absorbing watch !
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Silver Lion for Cai Shangjun (People Mountain People Sea). Acting awards for Michael Fassbender and Deanie Ip.