A young woman takes possession of an apartment and on the doorstep, greets the former tenant who’s chosen not to leave a forwarding address. This woman thus enters the film and haunts it all the way through as we follow her endlessly, present in each sequence and magnificently played by Chika Araki with astounding subtlety, mobility and precision. Yet we find out very little about her character: Kyoshi Sugita is obviously more interested in poetry than novels. Inspired by a tanka written by a famous Japanese poet, Higashi Naoko, here – rare indeed – we have a film that abandons the lazy, tired concept of plot to progress by successive epiphanies. What’s the basis of this ability to construct, in a continuous stream, scenes that are each a distinct explosion? There’s no recipe – it’s the organisation of surprises, each different, that allows for the alternation of deliberately heterogeneous moments: teatimes, lunches, daydreaming, sleep, wandering round town (in fact, a lot of people are seeking their way), from an energetic floor-painting sequence to a vaudeville piece with a character hiding in the wardrobe. But the frame undoubtedly plays a role, and one character often conceals another, as though one of the rules here were the possibility of superimposing, not to mention the striking significance of windows, doors and thresholds. And the sound, too, set into the image and present right from the start, is the focus of meticulous care, a way of splitting the image, of making it quiver, with other people passing through.
A pure, cinematographic poem, but one whose dry, unadorned poetry continually niches in different places in the film, this is a grand moment of emotion, this is cinema, uncompromising and reinvented!