In Radiance, a young woman named Misako (Ayame Misaki) is working for a firm providing audio descriptions of films for the visually impaired. Over the difficulties with the takes on an Art film, she has several run ins with a co-worker, Masaya, a former photographer (Masatoshi Nagase) slowly losing his eyesight. The wildly descriptive aspects of Misako’s work are challenged by Masaya over the search for inner meanings rather than graphically faithful on-screen description.
There was not that much love for Radiance (at least in English written publications), when shown in competition at Cannes Film Festival in 2017. But there is precisely more to the film than meets the eye. ”I want cinema to convey a tangible sense of hope” says the main female character in one scene. And what about truth?
Utterly poetic, Radiance, is made of extreme close ups, sunsets and blurs (literally and figuratively), focusing on specific details. Once more, Kawase came up with an intimate, delicate melodrama. If romantic outcomes are far from new and are predictable, Radiance is more about the expression of imagination and feelings in, but mainly out of the frame.
Misako must learn to draw parallels from her past, visiting her sick mother on the country side is a source, to get deeper, further into an accomplished reading of Art, of what has to be left to imagination against the visual boundaries of what has to be put into words.
*** Watch out for a cameo, as a film director, by Tatsuya Fuji (Ishida from In the realm of the senses)