Review of Shara

Shara (2003)
5/10
A story about liberation
18 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
With very long sequence shots and with the camera in hand, Naomi Kawase tells us the story of the empty space left in Shun by the disappearance of her brother. Shara is the village festival around which the whole plot revolves; a cultural rite organized by Shun's (Kohei Fukungaga) parents. That festival has a liberating role in the character.

To do this, and taking advantage of Kawase's experience in documentary filmmaking, Shara places special emphasis on locating ourselves in that "limited space" through descriptive shots. In addition, the film fulfills its cultural function of showing us the local culture; she plays the piano and he paints. However, Shara continues with the Asian custom of doing it from a distance and as another inhabitant, so as not to invade the character's privacy; a cultural issue.

Another of the themes that the film deals with is the aesthetics of the self-portrait. Naomi Kawase tells in her documentaries how she was abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandmother; something that is reflected in Shara in details such as the pain caused by photos and the comforting power of memory. In addition, the director herself stated that the presence of nature somehow connects the presence of people.

For this reason, the sequence shot that begins the film is especially important. Its objective is to place us in space, mark the distance from the characters and show us, through sound and nature, the "ghost of absence". However, the shot is imperfect, and only follows the aesthetics of the director's need, since she needs the absence to start; it is the central theme of all her work. Years later, Shun will return to the place where she lost her brother.

Also, rhythm has a very powerful empathic function. The beginning of the film is slow and contemplative, while, after the kiss with Yu (Yuka Hyyoudo) and its palliative effect on Shun, the film appropriates the rhythm that it did not have at the beginning; it is the way to the festival, the end; the definitive release of the load.

The festival has a healing function. The rhythm of the music helps them to get rid of that supernatural emptiness that they had been carrying for years, which is present through the rain (the natural). At this point in the movie, even we share the process with them.

The film ends in the opposite way to how it began: a life comes into the world, and everyone celebrates it. The camera does a reverse tracking shot and we return, with the same music and setting, to where everything had started an hour and forty minutes ago. The camera rises and says goodbye to the city and nature for the last time. Silence, the circle closes.
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