Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on April 2013

© 2013「ペタル ダンス」製作委員会

Just when I think Japanese film has relapsed into simply churning out Hollywood imitations, pathetic tearjerkers, or ultra-violent tripe, along comes a film like Petal Dance and renews my faith.

Wonderfully shot, poetic, thoughtful and finely wrought, director Hiroshi Ishikawa’s follow up to the critically acclaimed Su-ki-da (2005) is a worthy successor.

Ishikawa’s take on the search for identity and meaning brings four women together in the winsome and desolate beauty of northern Japan. Jinko (Aoi Miyazaki) is in a rough patch with her boyfriend, Motoko (Sakura Ando) has to see her ex-husband after a long break. The pair have decided to visit college pal Miki (Kazue Fukiishi), whom they’ve not seen since she attempted suicide. They meet the young Haraki (Shiori Kutsuna) at a train station and she agrees to drive them up north to meet Miki.

Filled with subtext about their romantic entanglements, interpersonal difficulties and longings, the film is slow at times but the excellent camerawork and characters carry us along. This is a film to savor. (86 min)