for Cinetalk.net

“Happiness exists in all our hearts.”

Unfortunately, the heart is also inhabited by emotional turmoil. Pain in tow, Jeanne (Juliette Binoche), a French writer, travels to the lush mountains of Nara, Japan in search of a strange medicinal fungus called Vision. It is said that the plant only flourishes once every 997 years and remedies human agony. Jeanne makes connections with a mountain ranger, and a blind woman who can “see” her. But what is the mysterious emotion that seems to bond these complete strangers?

Naomi Kawase adds Vision to her growing list of auteur-esque works. Her low-key everyday characters in seemingly everyday settings gain a hint of fantasy/sci-fi this time around. The forest, as in TV series Lost (JJ Abrams) has its own personality, and dominates many of the audiovisuals. It is somewhere between friend and foe (much like the human characters). Kawase has a way of turning spiritual questions into imaginative drama. With the help of Cinematographer Arata Dodo and Lighting Specialist mnbvcfds, she has crafted a visual delicacy. The images are sensual, with overhead shots of greenery, and close-ups on dew-tipped leaves and gnarled tree bark. The play of light flooding the sky, glowing through branches or through windows gives everything an otherworldly glow that makes us wonder if we are even in the present tense. It is easy to get lost in these striking scenes of Japan’s nature, and forget about the plot.

Some parts of Vision are uneven, but if the viewer is willing to go with the flow (and the vaguely nostalgic flashbacks), it is overall, a positive experience. At times, one might feel stuck in a dream that doesn’t seek to complete story arcs. But what if we interpret from this point forward? On the grounds of a dream not always offering perfect conclusions, we can decide to sit back and just absorb what is being thrown at us. Pace and cerebral hypotheses aside, Vision is a poetic way to remind us how we all connect with one another, and with the world around us. Nature is a vision. Jeanne is a vision. The special herb might actually exist, but in the end, it isn’t really the point.

 

FNC Screening:

Sunday October 14th, 7:25 PM Cineplex Odeon Quartier Latin 17

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