Sunday, December 7, 2008

Review of SWEET RAIN (2008) a.k.a. Is a Movie Star's Goofy Smile Enough to Sustain a Picture?

SWEET RAIN (2008) is a Japanese film directed by Masaya Kakei that was released about a month ago in Hong Kong. It is is about a grim reaper whose job it is to spend a few days leading human subjects to their death. In the course of the movie, he meets three such subjects and the people around them.

Edmund Lee's review in TIME OUT HK is much too generous to this little nothing of a film that plays more like 3 episodes of a dull TV series taped together and passed off as a feature film. In fact, the scenes of Chiba (the protagonist, a Grim Reaper who appears in human form, played by Takeshi Kaneshiro) inadvertently touching mortals with his ungloved hands and seeing them freeze and die temporarily is straight from the short-lived American TV series PUSHING DAISIES.

There is very little story here. And granted Kaneshiro is easy on the eyes, charming, and a movie star, one has to be a super fan of his to find this film enjoyable. Basically, the movie follows his character around as he meets a half dozen people. There's no story purpose and no conflict. Hence, no forward momentum.

Kaneshiro just mugs for the camera and tries to carry the film on what's left of his boyish charm. That may work to a certain extent, but given how overexposed the guy is--(I think China's Film Board recently passed a law that requires that Kaneshiro must appear in every so-called Chinese epic filmed on Chinese soil)--it's a flimsy excuse to justify a feature film.

The TIME OUT HK review also conveniently leaves out the presence of the main character's sidekick, a black lab, with whom Kaneshiro converses telepathically (dog gets subtitles) to provide a lot of exposition. The three separate stories are connected by the thinnest contrivance, but are spaced out over the course of a quarter century.

Basically, this film seems to have been made solely because Kaneshiro agreed to be in it. It is one of the dullest movies that is currently screening in Hong Kong. Why this film was made or distributed is a mystery to me.

By the way, the literal Japanese title is ACCURACY OF DEATH. Neither that nor SWEET RAIN is apt. A far more fitting title is WATCH TAKESHI KANESHIRO SPORT DIFFERENT HAIRSTYLES AS HE SMILES GOOFILY FOR THE Nth TIME.

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