Satoshi Miki’s Adrift In Tokyo ranks rather high on my to-see list of films. Why? Well, I have heard so many good things about it and it seems to be a fan and critic favourite, which to me is a sure sign of a good movie. While I am still waiting to tick that film off my list, I have had the chance to see the director’s new film, Ore, Ore, at this year’s Japanese Film Festival. My thoughts? It’s complex and full of different pieces of information, very much like a big jigsaw puzzle. However, what looks set to become an amazing picture when all the pieces fall into place end up being a bit of a disappointment because as it turns out, there are a few pieces missing, and also extra pieces that don’t belong there.
When Hitoshi Nagano (Kazuya Kamenashi) meets Daiki Hiyama and later Nao Motoyama, the trio quickly realises that they are the same person living different lives. Very soon, more and more ‘variants’ of the men appear, and things become complicated when one of them develops some seriously malicious intents…
The most amazing thing about this film is Kamenashi’s performance, or should I say, performances. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that there are thirty three men who are the same guy, all of them played by Kamenashi. Some of those characters make only brief appearances, but the others who appear in more than a few scenes are all easily recognisable by subtle differences in their appearances, body language and ways of talking. The supporting cast is also good, especially those playing the incredibly funny co-workers of Nagano’s.
Ore Ore, adapted from a novel, has many brilliant ideas. The concepts of duplication and deletion are mind-blowingly interesting. And it’s not all fiction, because they are well established phenomenon in the field of medical genetics (though they are known to occur in genes and not whole biological beings as we see in the film). My strongest criticism is that not enough explanation is given on how and why things happen. For example, why are there so many Naganos in the first place? Why are they so different despite being the same person? And how does one get deleted? Surely, that would require a lot more than just pressing the ‘DEL’ button on the keyboard…While there are many unanswered questions in my mind, I do have the feeling that the film could make more sense on second viewing.
In the end, I still think that Ore, Ore is a good film that is well worth watching. It’s just not as brilliant as it could be.
Ore, Ore is screening as part of the 17th Japanese Film Festival until December 8. Please check the website for screening times in your city.