Typhoon Club is about the lives of a half-dozen junior high school students who are trembling on the brink of their high school entrance exams.
The setting is a ’’new’’ Tokyo suburb. The school is clean, well run, and the movie takes place in the five-day period before, during and after a ferocious, seemingly liberating typhoon, which five of the students endure while marooned in the school’s gymnasium.
As the English title is apparently intended to emphasize, Typhoon Club is rather like a much more solemn version of John Hughes’s Breakfast Club. One young man, who’s obsessed by being and nothingness, is fond of making deep statements on the order of ‘’Death existed before life.’’ Two of the girls are disturbed by sexual longings they don’t yet understand. Another young man has an alcoholic father with whom he lives in a shack on the edge of the suburb. One young woman runs away – briefly – to see Tokyo for the first time.
The narrative unfolds in a series of short, sometimes enigmatic scenes that have the effect of a series of simple declarative sentences. They describe the action without ever interpreting it. After a while, one realizes that there really isn’t an awful lot to interpret.
The students are less distinctively characterized than the settings they inhabit. At best they are mouthpieces for the writer, Yuji Katch, who evokes the memory of Yukio Mishima, and the director, Shinji Somai, whose often strikingly beautiful images are more interesting than the lives of the people being photographed.
The film was awarded the Young Cinema Grand Prize at the 1985 Tokyo Film Festival. —New York Times
Shinji Sōmai (相米 慎二, Sōmai Shinji?, 13 January 1948 – 9 September 2001) was a Japanese film director. He directed 13 films between 1980 and 2000. His film Ohikkoshi was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. —wikipedia
A series of anxiety-inducing vignettes that highlight Somai's stylistic diversity (amazingly slow track-ins, jittery nervous handheld, Asian minimalism TM), while also using the aforementioned techniques to get at not the individual psyches of his characters, but rather the collective sense of frustration/tension/panic that the typhoon is allowing to come out. This means that the characters remain abstract, sure, but their emotions are palpable.