Short Movie Time: Detouring Blue (2023) (OAFF 2023)


Another director who received a change to present his work in this year’s Indie Forum is none other than Ryo Kimura. Last year, Kimura won the Best Invitation Video Award at the International Tourism Film Festival for his promotional video What will I shoot in TOKYO (2022).

Osaka Asian Film Festival


Before she is picked up by Kotsuka (Yutaro Watanabe), Shiori Utsumi (Saori Mori), who is known as Ringo to her costumers, happens to overhear a woman (Koto Ishikawa) who expresses her readiness to give up her dream to become a musician. As Kotsuka started driving to Yotsuya to pick up Lemon (Ami Kamimura), the woman’s signifiers starts reverberating in Shiori’s mind, causing memories of her high-school days and her dream to become a playwright to burst forth into her consciousness.

Detouring Blue (2023) by Ryo Kimura

Detouring Blue is a short narrative that does not only fleetingly touches upon the peculiarity of each subject’s sexuality – i.e. the kinks as well as one’s preferences, but also explores the dimension of subjective discontent in contemporary society.

While Kimura does not explain why Ringo and Lemon ended up working as call-girls, he litters his narrative with subtle signs that their position is not fuelled by any desire. In the case of Lemon, the dimension of money has silenced her subjective desire. For Shiori, her choice to work as a call-girl echoes her subjective deadlock, her stand-still.

How can such deadlock be shattered? How can a subject be forced to perform an act of desire? Kimura underlines that such kind of breakthrough can only be achieved by passing through one’s unconscious. The dimension of the unconscious is echoed in Shiori’s choice to dress up as a high-school girl during work. While such costume has, of course, a certain attraction for her male costumers, her decision to adorn her with the clothes of youthfulness underlines that, at the level of her unconscious, she has not truly given up on her dream and her desire. Her refusal to kiss her customers – to mingle her genes with a male other, is another sign that emphasizes that she is still holding on to her unsatisfied desire.

Detouring Blue (2023) by Ryo Kimura

It can also be argued that the costume allows the woman’s signifiers of giving up her dream to shake her subject more profoundly. Shiori’s costume acts, in a certain sense, as a key that allows the woman’s signifiers, which mirror Shiori’s situation, to violently open the gate to those lingering memories gravitating around her subjective failure. Can these fragments of her past,  irrupting wildly as a restless blue ocean, make her perform an act that will set her subject free?  

Detouring Blue is mainly framed with a simple concatenation of (semi-)static shots. While the static nature of Kimura’s composition is decorated by some decorative tracking and drone shots, it is nevertheless true that he unfolds his narrative within the static moments. The finale, however, does gain its power to emotionally impact the spectator due to its rich dynamism and its effective dramatic musical accompaniment.   

What makes Kimura’s narrative so visually enjoyable is the compositional effect of the colour-and lightning design. The subtle colour-contrasts (e.g. yellow/blue, …etc.), beyond breathing chromatic life into Tokyo’s night-life scenes, elegantly emphasize the visual tension of certain shot-compositions, hereby offering the spectator visual moments that allow him/her to fleetingly satisfy his scopic drive.

Detouring Blue is a visually pleasing experience by Ryo Kimura that touchingly shows that what dooms the subject to the de-subjectifying effect of the societal Other or to the birth of a subjective deadlock is a situation that chains his/her desire. A subject cut off from the ability to act in accordance to his desire easily falls prey to the discontent within the societal field. Highly recommended.      


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