Every now and then it’s nice to kick back with a bit of a drama. I couldn’t care for the subject matter, but a fair few focus themselves on relationships or loss. Maborosi does both, with the direction of Hirokazu Kore-eda coming into full form throughout a slow-paced meditation on a young woman who loses her husband around the time their first child is born. It has all the makings of a truly depressing, detailed story of one woman struggling to raise her new family and also deal with the loss of her partner. Unfortunately, it doesn’t play out as smoothly as it should do.
The slow-paced introduction found within Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Maborosi is something that will gel well with a great handful of audience members. As someone who doesn’t particularly like or dislike slow-paced storytelling, I was a tad on the fence about the impact Maborosi would have on me. Done right, and this style of storytelling can be a truly rewarding experience. I’m not entirely convinced Kore-eda can present us with an interesting enough story to warrant such a slow pace though. Lingering camerawork on abstract or unrelated aspects of the surrounding area make it feel a tad more like an art piece than a moving picture. Why we need such a long, lingering shot of a sign post on the side of a building or a collection of shoes is beyond me.
But I suppose we do need such scenes, for the sake of the story at least. Longer than expected shots are hidden throughout Maborosi, and there is a time and place for it in some occurances. Seeing our protagonist drive to the fishing village, holding the frame for an extra few moments to get an insight into the mentality of Yumiko (Makiki Esumi) and those around her. It all falls into place rather extravagantly, however is ruined by its extreme overuse. Esumi is given her fair share of screentime and she uses it with a sincere tenacity. She brings the story to life and her few shining moments throughout are more than enough to bring the film together.
I’m a fan of Kore-eda films. Shoplifters is pretty good, and Like Father, Like Son is an underrated family drama that manages to pry at the meaning of what a nuclear family is. All of it is very commonplace in the society and culture highlighted throughout Kore-eda’ work, and I have nothing but the upmost respect for his takedowns of conventional systems of culture. However, it just didn’t gel for me in Maborosi. He left me feeling a tad bored, very uncoordinated, and furiously underwhelmed. A sad shame, because the potential of Maborosi does shine through from time to time.