Home > Events, Film, Reviews > Film Review: Heart, Beating In The Dark (2005) – A Film By Shunichi Nagasaki

Film Review: Heart, Beating In The Dark (2005) – A Film By Shunichi Nagasaki

A new view on the relationship between the past and the present!

Heart, Beating in the Dark (screened as part of the ICA Japanese cinema season Whose Film Is It Anyway?  Contemporary Japanese Auteurs)  is partially a remake of and a sequel to Shunichi Nagasaki’s 1982 film of the same name, incorporating additional footage from the original that shows the connections between the characters and helps to explain the reasons why writer/director Nagasaki decided to make this film…

It follows the story of two couples over two days. The first is Toru (Shoichi Honda) and Yuki (Noriko Eguchi) a young couple on the run from loan sharks who have arranged to stay for one night in an unused apartment owned by Toru’s friend but now managed by his friends ex wife Ritsuko (Kaori Misushima). The second involves Ringo (Takashi Naito) and Inako (Shigero Muroi) a middle aged man and women who share a history of their past relationship which featured in the original film and their reunion after 23 years apart.

(Courtesy of Japan Foundation)

When Inako meets Ringo in his repair shop near an apartment block, Ringo suggests that they go back to his apartment. Over a dinner prepared by Ringo the two discuss their lives during the preceding 23 years and slowly we begin to see the history that they share and the horror of the  incident that happened in their past is gradually revealed. After a violent sexual encounter between them Ringo offers to drive Inako to the local station. They set off in to the night in Ringo’s work van and head towards a beach.

In the morning Toru and Yuki leave the apartment and steal Ritsuko’s car without knowing exactly where they want to go. The two couples encounter each other at a Diner and after a brief confused discussion, both head off. But Ringo appears to follow the young couple. Later that morning the four of them arrive at a beach and talk, drink and play in the sea. Ringo seems to know something about Toru and after a while, the two couple’s part with Ringo and Inako driving off leaving the young couple in their car on the beach.

(Courtesy of Japan Foundation)

The next morning something drastic appears to have happened to Toru and Yuki. When Toru wakes up he realises that Yuki needs medical treatment. After some deliberation Ringo decides that he needs to confront Toru about something and he and Inako then return to the beach just in time to find a distressed Toru. Ringo gives Toru his van to take Yuki to the hospital and the two couple’s part.

Heart, Beating in the Dark is a deep psychological drama with some scenes reminiscent of various Japanese Horror films from recent years. The low lighting of the locations helps to emphasise the feeling of foreboding and edginess running through the story.

(Courtesy of Japan Foundation)

It is not an easy film to watch as it jumps between the stories of the two couples and the insertion of footage from the original film as well. However, it does focus mostly on the four main characters and their parallel stories as well as showing the relationships and motives between the two members of each couple. It’s a story that reveals the worst and best sides of the main characters and ends with a slightly skewed redemption for the older couple.

To bring to a close, Heart, Beating in the Dark couldn’t be described as entertaining per se but it would be of interest to anyone who likes the grittier side of independent Japanese films.

Running time: 104 mins

Dir: Shunichi Nagasaki,

Cast: Takashi Naito, Shigero Muroi, Shoichi Honda, Noriko Eguchi, Taro Suwa, Kaori Misushima

Author Profile:

Ian Rudd has always had a passion for films, music, art and comics. He also has an interest in Japanese traditional and contemporary culture, food, films, anime, manga and music as well as a general interest in the cultures of other Asian countries too. In recent years he has been involved in helping to organise various Japanese related events such as the Japanese Art Festival, Bunkasai, Aid For Japan and more recently CamCon http://thecamcon.com/ which covers a more varied range of contemporary cuture.

The ICA Japanese cinema season Whose Film is it Anyway? Contemporary Japanese Auteurs is part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme. For more details and film listing, click here.

(Courtesy of Japan Foundation)

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