A family drama from Japan of a very high caliber, Masao Takeshita’s adaptation of the award winning novel centers around a family whose infrastructure has been pushed to the point of collapse. However, don’t let this lead you to believe that it is an explosive affair. Like others of its ilk (THE TASTE OF TEA, a bona fide hit at one of the festival’s earliest incarnations, comes to mind) the story has a knack for earnestly depicting characters who display grace under fire. While maintaining a sense of calm and a dignified air, the family unit here is more fractured than usual, and exchanges among them are more sharply pointed (sometimes with a delightfully wry edge). Yet all involved are presented as nuanced individuals. The patriarch of the family makes applause-worthy sacrifices, yet also keeps up emotional shields from those he is close to, rendering an effect on them as well. While others may act in ways that will strike observers as maddeningly selfish, they are shown in a way that emphasizes their humanness. Interesting conflicts of interest are explored, which cannot be sufficiently judged in terms of good and bad, right and wrong. And although there are trials, the film is not shy about celebrating triumphs and lingering in the ups that counterbalance the downs. In short, this is a moving, insightful drama that treats its complicated subjects with plenty of sensitivity.
MIDNIGHT BUS is being screened at The 2018 New York Asian Film Festival on Wednesday, July 11 at 6 PM at the Walter Reade Theater. Director Masao Takeshita will attend the screening for a Q & A. Visit the NYAFF homepage for tickets and information.