Short Movie Time: Similarity (2022) review [Skip City International D-Cinema Festival]


Kiichiro Kimura has a rich experience. He did not only start his career as a production design assistant, he also directed various documentaries on music and environmental issues. And currently, he mainly works as a director for corporate ads and TV programs.

Yet, when covid-19 hit, he had to stop making advertisement videos for three months. Robbed of his excuse – I’m too busy to do what I want, he set out to make a short-film that, unsurprisingly, touches upon the effect that the dynamic of excuses has on the others.  

Skip City International D-Cinema Festival

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One day, Komei Tanaka (Ippei Osako), the hit-creator behind the ‘wrapped in a sheet” campaign to make people aware of unregistered children, is doing an interview about his sudden success. Yet, when Yusaku Komine (Sho Mineo) enters the building of an advertisement company for his job-interview, he stands up – interrupts the interview – to follow him. Both, as they start to talk, are classmates from university.

During the interview, Yusaku shows some of his art to the three interviewers. Much to his surprise, they show interest in an old artwork he took by accident. The reason for their interest is simple: Tanaka’s photographic work that is taking the world by storm is a mere copy of Yusaku’s painting. Not much later, Komei Tanaka is confronted by one of his bosses with his plagiarizing.

Similarity (2022) by Kiichiro Kimura

By structuring Similarity around the reveal of the act of plagiarizing, Kiichiro Kimura offers the spectator a fleeting exploration of the relational tangle and conflict that such revelation can lead to. In more concrete terms, Kimura stages the conflictual and irresolvable void between how a subject acts and how the Other desires the subject to act.

Yusaku Komine’s problem is that he is too nice. Yet, this friendliness is determined by his unvocalized fear for conflict and the other’s Otherness. This fear compels him act in such way that always attempts to satisfy the Other by erasing himself as subject. In a certain sense, he temporarily annuls his existence – e.g. his symbolic rights, to invite the Other into liking him.  

While it is evident that Tanaka embodies a certain snobby-ness (e.g. watching his watch too much – you are using my precious time, perfectly styled and groomed, the disinterest that conquers his face when he is not the centre of attention), one can not call him a liar. Rather, it is a sign of conceit that he tells the interviewers, albeit indirectly, the truth of his emptiness: “I personally don’t have anything to express…”. Yet, what he does not add is the following: “… so I steal it from other who have something to express”.

Similarity (2022) by Kiichiro Kimura

Yusaku’s painting, which the spectator should understand as a representation of his own subjective position, could not have been better for Tanaka’s campaign. The sheet that covers the face of the child symbolizes how the absence of a symbolic inscription of a child’s bodily presence results in an Other that does not see – the blind spots of the Other. Moreover, the element of the sheet elegantly evokes that, due to the Other’s blindness, the subject is robbed of a symbolic anchor to make himself present within the symbolic field and to realize himself as existence within the field of signifiers.

Two unexpected twists transform the light-heartedly flowing narrative of two university friends accidently meeting each other into a tensive face-off between Yusaku, Komei, and Emi (Reiko Mori), Yusaku’s pregnant wife. Can any of Kimura’s characters be transformed by this sudden confrontation? Or while the field of unvocalized excuses continue the subjective stalemate?  

The composition of Similarity is full of crude dynamic moments (Cine-note 1). While Kimura’s crudeness could very well be a result of the film’s low-budget nature, it is not without its positive effects on how the narrative feels. In fact, the rough shakiness that marks the framing breathes a certain documentary-like naturalism in the unfolding of Kimura’s fictional narrative. 

Similarity (2022) by Kiichiro Kimura

The roughness also highlights the natural flavour of the acting-performances and helps emphasizing the humane and flawed nature of Kimura’s characters. It is due to this subtle roughness, for instance, that the moment when Tanaka’s mask of conceit breaks down and his speech falters attains its beauty and power. 

Similarity is a highly enjoyable short by Kiichiro Kimura. With his elegantly structured narrative, he fluidly transforms the lingering sense of light-heartedness in a pressing atmosphere full of tension. Of course, this fluid shift would not have been possible if Kimura could not rely on a main cast that, by breathing life into the subjective logic of each character, carried the narrative to its disconcerting conclusion. Highly recommended.   


Cine-note 1: Static moments are utilized as well. In some cases, fixity is used to offer the spectator a nicely composed visual moment.


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