12 23 oct '21

Review: Adjusting to nature's rhythm in Naomi Kawase's ‘Still the Water’ - Chris Frieswijk

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22 Oct 2014

Part of growing up is about learning how to deal with complex themes such as love and death, about adjusting to your surroundings, and above all about accepting that things don't always go by your standards. In ‘Still the Water,’ we follow the young protagonist Kaito in his coming of age.

The starting point is Kaito finding a dead body washed up on the shore. Overwhelming as such an experience can be, he starts questioning his position in this world, and his relationships with the people surrounding him. The question of man's position in nature is a strong theme, which is also suggested by the visual motif of the grand and raw wilderness. The sea is wild and a storm threatens the island they live on. Perhaps this serves as a metaphor for Kaito's turbulent state of mind. The message seems clear: don't resist the nature of things. Kaito does learn how to cope with his insecurities, enabling him to reconnect to his environment.

‘Still the Water’ is an intimate portrait of rural Japanese culture, touching by its authentic, modest feel, and beautiful ritual music. At the same time its themes are universal. People everywhere are trying to find their place in this world, each in their own way. Be it under the neon lights of metropolitan Tokyo, or like Kaito, in reconnecting with nature.

The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.

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