A social fable, about a man who oversteps the community's boundaries and must be removed. But also figuring a shift from a male dominated order to a female dominated one. There is also a complicated theme of inheritance running through it.
The titular backwater is like the subconscious of Japan, where life is dictated by natural forces and inherent urges. Much of the action occurs on the ground of a shrine, the ancient tradition representing at once the community's eternal values and it's constantly shifting roles. So when the emperor dies it may not change much overall but here it has great symbolic resonance or rather is a sign of the cultural shift.
The film was adapted from a novel and seems a little compressed. It is fairly didactic with the characters only just fleshed out. On the other hand, it has a literary complexity and a flowing narrative. The setting is very convincing. Even though it is winter, watching the film it felt like a cool summer night.
Cannes Film Festival winner Shinji Aoyama creates a chilling atmosphere in this adaptation of an award-winning novel. A young man tries to fight the deadly influence of his violent, abusive dad. Will the sins of the father carry on to the next generation in the bloodline?
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