[Short movie time] Arcadia (2018)

“While not all is perfect, it is still a very moving account, full of subtlety, of an encounter between two human beings. In other words, a short movie worth seeing.”


It is time for another Short Movie Time. This time we focus on Yoshino Takemoto and her latest short movie Arcadia. Yoshino Takemoto currently works as a medical technician at the Riken Science institute, while pursue her passion for directing in weekends. She is, as she calls herself, a “weekend director”.

Takemoto started directing short movies in 2007 and has, since then, already earned many awards with her short narratives. Her latest narrative, Arcadia, is already her fourth narrative to be screened at the international film festival of Cannes.


vlcsnap-2018-04-01-20h44m58s118For many years, Kaori has taken care of her demented father. One day her father disappears. In her search, Kaori is attracted by the sound of a cello and finds a man, Shota Nagano, playing in the street. Luckily, her father shows up as well. As they start going home,  Shota collapses. Kaori sees no other solution than to take him in.

Arcadia is a particular narrative as it succeeds in seamlessly blending diverse themes, such as dementia, the power of music, acceptance of homosexual feelings and the importance of one’s name as signifier, into a satisfying whole. While the reality of dementia – linked with Japan’s aging population – and the social issue related to the wandering behaviour of demented elderly people is touched upon, the narrative true focus is on how far one can go – even ignoring ones own needs – in the care for someone who has lost touch with the vlcsnap-2018-04-01-20h43m57s161reality as it is unfolding in the present and on the importance of being recognized by one’s own name, a recognition emphasizing and even reaffirming one’s symbolic existence within the symbolic world.

Even though Arcadia‘s cinematography is not flawless – towards the end the concatenation of shots misses some fluency, causing a very minor stumble in the continuity of the scene – the cinematography composition doesn’t fail to underline Yoshino Takemoto’s aptitude to use the image to evoke delicate unspoken emotions (Cine-note 1). Instead of resorting to speech, it is through the recurrence of simple touches that the narrative is able to communicate the sincere emotions of the characters. And in some instances, the shakiness of shots subtly empowers the subjective impact of the encounter between Shota and Kaori.

Arcadia is a cinematographical narrative that proves two things. First of all, it proves Takemoto’s ability to craft, within a short span of time, a nuanced narrative touching upon a myriad of themes. And secondly, it shows her understanding of the communicative and emotional power of a sincere human touch and her aptitude of utilizing this power cinematographically. While not all is perfect, it is still a very moving account, full of subtlety, of an encounter between two human beings. In other words, a short movie worth seeing.



Cine-note 1: The sudden use of a slow-motion shot and, some time later, a very shaky following shot slightly disrupt the cinematographical fluidity.




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