Noriko Yuasa, who has been making short films since 2014, has always been questioning the notion of family -‘With whom and how should we live until the end of our life?”. Yuasa’s latest, for that matter, does not concern family in a strict sense, but explores something as fundamental: love and how it affects the experience of our world.
Shiori (Riria Kojima), who suffers from congenital achromatopsia, cannot distinguish colours. Due to this condition, Shiori cannot fully appreciate the world, a world of beauty full of colours.
Shiori spends her days with her only friend Yumi (Honoka Yoneyama). One day, Yumi finds a rare white petal. Fascinated by this strange find, Yumi photographs it. A flash. A sudden change. Shiori sees a flash of colour. She does not understand how, but this sudden experience compels her to seek more petals.
Yuasa’s Coming Back Sunny is a touching and uplifting short-movie narrative. Following Shiori, a seventeen year old girl who due to her eye-condition suffers from, what one can call, social exclusion, Yuasa is able to highlight the destructive impact of gossip as well as the beauty of the blossoming of love.
Concerning the former, when Shiori learns that Yumi gossiped about her, the image she has of Yumi as a trustworthy friend becomes impossible to maintain. While it is not explicitly stated, the effect this knowledge has – e.g. her puking – underlines that Yumi’s position for Shiori’s general well-being is fundamental.
With respect to the blossoming of youthful love – arguably the most essential element of the narrative, Yuasa beautifully visualizes that love and colour are intrinsically linked with each other. In other words, love affects perception. Love is, as Yuasa’s visual language shows, the most effective substance for giving the world its vivid colours back.
With Coming Back Sunny, Noriko Yuasa proves that she has a fine sense of cinematographical composition. This is not only evident in the pleasing opening sequence, but also in the way the myriad of sequences focused on colour are integrated in the overall unfolding, sequences visualizing Shiori’s cocktail of emotions.
The way Yuasa approached colour in her narrative underlines that she has distinctive creative ideas and the ability to visualize them on the silver screen. Nowadays, one often sees directors that have good narrative ideas but neglect the poetry inherent to the medium of film. Noriko Yuasa is different.
Yuasa’s narrative has a pleasing rhythm, due to the snappy compositions – freely shifting between the present and the past – and the rhythmical musical accompaniment. Another element that heightens the visual pleasure of the spectator are the acting performances as such, especially those of Riria Kojima and Honoka Yoneyama. Teasing playfulness, blossoming excitement, heartbreaking disappointment, or youthful love, each emotion is sensibly brought to life.
Coming Back Sunny is a touching and colourful celebration of the blossoming of love. Noriko Yuasa, with her fine sense of composition and her skill to realize her creative ideas, succeeds in visualizing the bursting impact of love in a fresh and highly visual way. Highly recommended.