“One wonders how on earth it is possible that Inoue has not yet received a chance to craft a full-length feature.”
There is still more to discover in the land of Japanese short movies. In this Short Movie Time we want to highlight the work of Hiroki Inoue. Inoue, who is attracted by the unique way the moving images enables expression, aims to express different worlds with his various cinematographical narratives. Together we will dive into the world he painted in his 2016’s short movie Hypnotism For Love.
As this years high-school festival nears, Kyoko (Aoki Juna) and Kana (Hasegawa Niina), who decided to do a hypnotism show, need to practice their act. They opportunistically decide to test their hypnotizing skills on some boys they like, so that they would fall in love with them. One day, Kana asks Kyoko to approach Reiji and hypnotize him for her.
Hypnotism for Love is a charming exploration of female adolescence and the relational complexity that the first romantic feelings eventually cause. While the plot is rather simple, Inoue, by subtly focusing on Kyoko’s subjectivity in relation to her friend Kana and Reiji, is able to touch upon a myriad of different sides of adolescent love, e.g. the shyness towards boys, the aspect of the unsaid, the hidden conflicts,… etc., and open the world of female adolescence in a lighthearted way for the spectator. The fact that Inoue is able to open this world of female adolescence in such an enjoyable way has much to do with the fact that the script is very adolescent-like, i.e. the narrative development is guided by the often ill thought-out way of adolescent thinking (narra-note 1).
If we look at the cinematography of Hypnotism of Love we quickly discern a mixture of fixed shots and semi-fixed shots, i.e. shots characterized by very subtle movement (Cine-note 1). It is the way how Inoue uses these semi-fixed shots that reveals his cinematographical talent. By exploiting the ambiguous communicative power of the oscillation of shots with subtle artistry, Inoue is able to resound Kyoko’s subjectivity in an evocative way. By this exploitation, Inoue is able to infuse, in conjunction with heightened use of close-ups, the acts of hypnotizing with an endearing intimacy and underline the equally intimate shyness of Kyoko – and Kana in second instance – in relation to Reiji (cine-note 2).
Aoki Juna gives a mesmerizing and natural performance as Kyoko – and shows a lot of potential in the future. Much of the appeal of the narrative stems from her performance, a performance beautifully and thoughtfully captured by Hiroki Inoue. Furthermore, the narrative benefits from the amazing interaction between Kyoko’s natural performance and the music that supports the narrative development. As her facial expressions subtly change, the mood of the classical music – if present – changes as well. In other words, while the music effectively underlines the ‘innocent’ but mischievousness nature of the hypnosis and the innocent of Kyoko and, to a lesser degree, Kana’s shyness in interaction, the music is also able, as Kyoko’s expressions subtle change, to empower her emotional problem and imply crystal-clear that something that she is unable to say.
Hypnotism for love is truly an extra-ordinary short film. The beauty of Inoue’s narrative has to be situated in the way the world of adolescence or more specific by how the often ill thought-out way of thinking guides the structure of the narrative exploration of Kyoko’s subjective dilemma as such. Furthermore, Inoue’s cinematography and more specific his use of cinematographic oscillation to subtle evoke Kyoko’s subjectivity is downright amazing. One wonders how on earth it is possible that Inoue has not yet received a chance to craft a full-length feature.
Narra-note 1: Hypnotism is framed in a realistic way. The narrative conclusion is the affirmation of the limits of hypnotism.
Cine-note 1: When the movement in the narrative becomes less subtle, the cinematographical movement generally follows the movement of a given character – Kyoko or Kana – within the narrative space. Nevertheless, in some instances – three to be precise, camera movement does not follow the movement of the character in question.
Cine-note 2: Another element that is noteworthy to highlight is Inoue’s subtle and effective play with depth-of-field throughout the entire narrative.