|Raindance Film Review: A Road Stained Crimson|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Tuesday, 02 October 2012 07:03|
Director: Tetsuhiko Nono
You know the drill. Lonely motorbike mechanic used to be professional killer. Tries to move on with his life. Ends up killing people anyway. Just your average Japanese thriller.
Why does Ken (Hirofumi Arai) want to quit his old profession? Who is Yoko, the older woman he lives with? And what exactly did his father do to get himself killed?
First-time writer/director Tetsuhiko Nono doesn’t answer all the questions. In fact, he seems to go out of his way to make them harder to work out. "It’s time for him to accept his fate,” says Ken’s mother/lover/aunt/roommate. "Such as?" comes the reply. "Various things,” she answers, cryptically.
But any concerns over fuzzy plot details and unclear editing are easily forgotten thanks to Nono’s natural flair behind the camera. DoP Takuro Iwagami pulls focus beautifully, framing the action and the quiet moments with equal precision. At one point, a guy gets shot in the head, only for the camera to swivel round behind him, look through the hole and then start zooming in. That visual dexterity combines with Ken’s flourishes of violence to make for an infectiously fun ride.
It helps, too, that you have no idea where things are headed. Introducing a sidekick halfway through, the script suddenly switches gear, moving from hitman drama to happy road movie; and thanks to an enigmatic lead performance and a stonking soundtrack from Snake on the Beach, you’ll gladly change speed with it.