A Scene At The Sea
The lives of a young, hearing-impaired and gloomy couple are fulfilled after the boy holds interest in surfboarding.
Back in 1991, visionary auteur Takeshi Kitano, arguably the greatest Japanese filmmaker since Akira Kurosawa, took a step back from his frequented comedy and crime genres to do something a little different.
One of his least accessible features, A Scene at the Sea remains an equal-parts inspirational and melancholic look at a young deaf couple struggling on the fringe of Japanese society, whose lives gain direction when the man finds a broken surfboard and decides he wants to teach himself to surf. Despite being mocked by the local youths, and ridiculed by the pro surfers who watch his seemingly futile efforts from the shore, he persists, almost oblivious to outside influences, and eventually his dedication pays off. On the face of it, Kitanos exploration of the lives of this young deaf couple is a pedestrian near-silent-movie-esque enterprise, with a narrative that involves almost literally nothing happening for the majority of the runtime, all set to the dulcet and melancholic tones of composer and future long-term Kitano-collaborator, Joe Hisaishi.
But Kitano even if relatively new to the Big Screen back then, and yet to make his masterpiece (1993s Sonatine) was always a confident and accomplished filmmaker, with a distinct vision, and its not unreasonable to see this, retrospectively, as another intimate look at Japanese class struggle, fringe existence and life with his protagonists obliviousness to the trappings of modern Japanese society (most notably, and most bluntly, often through not actually being able to hear the comments and criticisms) enabling him to do what most others can only sit back and dream about. Unfortunately, ultimately, it is a particularly inaccessible film even by Kitanos frequently inaccessible standards and despite its unusually poetic, sweet and bittersweet, tones, and subtle, well-meaning symbolism, this may leave all but the most ardent Kitano fans cold. AV Club
Tethered to only the slightest narrative, the film evokes the experience of early love and disappointment in a manner both sharp and tender. Chicago Reader
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