Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The Sydney Film Festival is wrapped up for 2019! Click here to check out our must-see films with the SWITCH team's reviews.x
review, Radiance, Radiance, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Masatoshi Nagase, Noémie Nakai, Ayame Misaki, Tatsuya Fuji, Mantarô Koichi, Kazuko Shirakawa, Naomi Kawase

RADIANCE

★★

TOO MUCH SUGAR SPOILS A BEAUTIFULLY SHOT ROMANCE

JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
1st December 2017

In the Japanese drama ‘Radiance’, Misako (Ayame Misaki, ‘Attack on Titan’, ‘Hentai Kamen: Abnormal Crisis’), a writer of audio versions of films for the visually impaired, is working on her latest description of a film with the help of visually handicapped people. She reads along with the movie in her clear, chiming voice and the panel reply with observations and delicately-worded tips for improvement. All except for the crusty Nakamori (the great Nagase Masatoshi, ‘The Hidden Blade’, Jim Jarmusch's ‘Mystery Train’), once a world-famous photographer until a degenerative disease stole away his sight (he’s abrasive and blunt but tall and handsome, ‘natch). As the director slowly moves her narrative forward, the two bond while watching 'Radiance', a film within the film (which stars iconic Japanese actor Tatsuya Fuji).

'RADIANCE' TRAILER

Romance ensues.

The work of director Naomi Kawase (‘Sweet Bean’, ‘Still The Water’, ‘Suzaku’) is heavily concerned with the distorted space between fiction and non-fiction that has occurred within the state of modern Japanese society. She employs a documentary-style realism (often using amateur actors) to focus on individuals of lesser cultural status and connect her own personal reflections on contemporary issues - Japan-centric hot button topics like the economic depression, declining birth-rate, alienation, the collapse of traditional family structures, and feminist practices.

To this extent, Misako is a direct Kawase surrogate, not least when she veers between sincerity, “I want cinema to convey a more tangible feeling of hope,” and feistiness - after listening to Masaya trash her script, she snaps back, “You have no imagination!”

The film looks terrific. Kawase focuses our attention through extreme close-ups, making use of natural autumnal magic-hour light with a diffuse, gauzy quality. Cinematographer Arata Dodo (his father, Shunji Dodo, was Kawase’s teacher) conjures occasional frames of stunning widescreen poetry from the director’s image system, whether it is two kissing lovers emblazoned as orange silhouettes against the twilight, or a spinning crystal scattering shards of multi-coloured light on gazing faces. Equally impressive is the subtly heightened sound design by Roman Dymny, which captures the buffeting of the world around Nakamori.

Kawase focuses our attention through extreme close-ups, making use of natural autumnal magic-hour light with a diffuse, gauzy quality.

Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t support the visuals and sound, with thin characterisation and glacial pacing that provides very little plot momentum. It’s also super sappy and overwrought. Even the film’s use of visual metaphors becomes heavy-handed (such as a burning photograph of a man’s eye).

Essentially, ‘Radiance’ is a film about people’s desires for encounters - with others and with cinema - that are sensorial and true. But strikingly cinematography and production design can’t overcome the schmaltz overload of Kawase’s script. If you’re after a film about characters chasing more rewarding lives by embracing sensory experiences, try Kawase’s previous and much better film, ‘Sweet Bean’.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 41m
CAST: Masatoshi Nagase
Noémie Nakai
Ayame Misaki
Tatsuya Fuji
Mantarô Koichi
Kazuko Shirakawa
DIRECTOR: Naomi Kawase
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Claire Darling - A French film fail
TRENDINGCLAIRE DARLINGA French film fail
The Third Wife - A drama steeped in family history
TRENDINGWIN THE THIRD WIFEA drama steeped in family history
Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan - Close to home
TRENDINGDANGER CLOSE: THE BATTLE OF LONG TANClose to home
Yesterday - Great concept, disappointing execution
TRENDINGYESTERDAYGreat concept, disappointing execution
Children of the Sea - Sunk by a soggy script
TRENDINGCHILDREN OF THE SEASunk by a soggy script
My Big Gay Italian Wedding - A ridiculously fun love story
TRENDINGMY BIG GAY ITALIAN WEDDINGA ridiculously fun love story
Buffy - A 20th anniversary love letter
TRENDINGBUFFYA 20th anniversary love letter
Toy Story 4 - Entertaining but thoroughly unnecessary
TRENDINGTOY STORY 4Entertaining but thoroughly unnecessary
Parasite - A bloodthirsty and very funny look at class warfare
TRENDINGPARASITEA bloodthirsty and very funny look at class warfare
The Final Quarter - Tackling a shameful chapter in AFL history
TRENDINGTHE FINAL QUARTERTackling a shameful chapter in AFL history
Ladyworld - Experimental thriller not so thrilling
TRENDINGLADYWORLDExperimental thriller not so thrilling
Back of the Net - Misses the net, and then some
TRENDINGBACK OF THE NETMisses the net, and then some
Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders - Your new playmates
TRENDINGJACK LADDER & THE DREAMLANDERSYour new playmates
2040 - A hopeful look into our environmental future
TRENDING2040A hopeful look into our environmental future
God's Own Country - A miraculous and deeply beautiful film
TRENDINGGOD'S OWN COUNTRYA miraculous and deeply beautiful film
The Notebook - Your break-up best friend for the past 15 years
TRENDINGTHE NOTEBOOKYour break-up best friend for the past 15 years
Come to Daddy - A morbidly amusing genre mash-up
TRENDINGCOME TO DADDYA morbidly amusing genre mash-up
Never Look Away - An artistic and spiritual epic
TRENDINGNEVER LOOK AWAYAn artistic and spiritual epic
Mean Girls - 15 years of fetch
TRENDINGMEAN GIRLS15 years of fetch
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum - Third time's a charm
TRENDINGJOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUMThird time's a charm
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us