This column is always in search of up-and-coming, talented, Japanese directors, all the better if they are outside of the cis-male paradigm which dominates filmmaking here. New director Yui Kiyohara is a welcome sight. She recently graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, where she studied with heralded auteurs Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Atsuhiko Suwa. This film won the Grand Prix at the recent Pia Film Festival, long considered an incubator for leading indie directors in Japan. In Our House, Kiyohara shows all the hallmarks of a new, major talent.

Our House Movie Japanese film review
The plot concerns two disconnected stories which draw close together via the setting: an old house. Seri, just about to turn 14, lives with her mother Kiriko in the large home. Her father disappeared years before and the two have come to an uneasy détente. Now, Kiriko has taken a new lover, an uncomfortable reality that Seri must endure. In the other story, twenty-something Sana wakes up on a ferry with no memory. She meets Toko on the ship and they agree to stay together in her big, old house. All four characters, especially the young ones, seem lost in an empty world.

Kiyohara has crafted a fascinating film which is part thriller, part human drama and part existential impressionism. The darkly drawn, empty atmosphere quickly affects the viewer and communicates how the girls feel. In addition, the setting of the old, odd-shaped house creates persistent and simultaneous feelings of uneasiness and wonder. Are the girls comfortable or frightened in their home? Gradually the stories begin to subtly intertwine. At once creative, creepy, touching and inventive, Our House portends great things from director Kiyohara.

Japanese title: Watashi-tachi no ie; 80 min.

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