How do Aceh and Japan, two places that seem unrelated, separated by a vast distance of land and sea, connect on the personal and historical level?
For one, they both have been hit by a tsunami — Aceh in the massive tragedy that struck many parts of Southeast Asia in 2004 and Japan in 2011. Going back further, the Japanese Imperial Army was in Aceh during World War II. The ghost of those two momentous events still haunt the Indonesian province, and that ghost — that combined force of history and nature — is what The Man From The Sea is trying to explore.
The Japanese film by director Koji Fukada (whose previous film Harmonium, a chilling revenge tale, was released in Bangkok) takes place entirely in Aceh, an unlikely setting for a film with a very Japanese sensibility. It opens with a mysterious incident when a naked man is washed ashore on the northern tip of Sumatra, and the true identity of this man is the film’s central conceit. While authorities figure out what to do with him, a Japanese woman, Takako, who’s lived in Aceh for years and her half-Japanese, half-Indonesian son, Takashi, take the man home. Soon a Japanese teenager, Sachiko, arrives at Atsuko’s house on a vacation, and she begins hanging out with Takashi and his Indonesian friends, Ilma and Chris.
The search for the man’s origin is intercut with the budding romance between Sachiko, Chris, Takashi and Ilman. A straightforward drama of young love and conflicting identities — Takashi speaks Bahasa and considers himself more Indonesian than Japanese — takes on a transcendental note when the mysterious man begins to show a miraculous healing power, including the ability to conjure up a ball of water out of thin air to save from a girl from dying. …
Read the complete article on Southeast Asian picks at the Busan International Film Festival, by Kong Rithdee on the Bangkok Post.
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