Director – Makoto Shinozaki, Screenplay – Makoto Shinozaki & Sakai Zenzo, Producers – Makoto Shinozaki & Ichiyama Shozo, Photography – Akiyama Yuki, Music – Yasuyuki Dodo & Nagashima Hiroyuki, Special Effects Director – Taguchi Kiyotaka. Production Company – COMTEG/Office Kitano
Kinuo Yamada (Eiko), Asuka Hinoi (Kaoru), Takahashi Ryudai, Tomoki Kimura (Kiyoshi), Hyodo Kumi, Suzuki Takuji)
In Tokyo, the professor Eiko becomes fascinated after a student reports having a dream that predicted the Fukushima Earthquake and nuclear disaster. Eiko also lost her husband Kiyoshi in the disaster and has dreams of him still being alive. She starts a study into these apparently precognitive dreams where her immediate response is to dismiss them as false memories. Meanwhile, a young student Kaoru, is taking part in a play that attempts to deal with the Fukushima disaster. While other actors feel their lack of participation in what happened makes them inadequate to depict it, Kaoru presses on to do the play. She also reports to Eiko having one of the precognitive dreams in which she lost a child.
Makoto Shinozaki is a new director to me. He has been steadily working since the 1980s and his films have had some festival play, although do not seem widely known. Several of his works and tv movies have ventured into the horror genre before with his first film Desutoraru (1981) and Kai-Ki: Tales of Terror from Tokyo (2010).
I must admit that I was lured into Sharing on false pretences. The Vancouver International Film Festival program notes indicate that it was a horror film about someone who has premonitions of disaster. In sitting down to watch Sharing though, it seems that Makoto Shinozaki is making a very different film. It gives the appearance that he has wanted to make a film about the way that the Japanese people have confronted the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, which led to the catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Alas, it would appear that for Shinozaki, the perspective that has interested him is more an academic than a fantastic one. The two stories that take up the film are of Kinuo Yamada’s professor and how she attempts to examine the issue of what she believes are false memories in which people believe they anticipated the disaster, and of young actress Asuka Hinoi who is appearing a play about the disaster and is determined to persevere against voices that say she they cannot do the topic justice because they were not personally involved. The directorial tone that Shinozaki takes throughout this is neutral and anonymous. I kept expecting that we would get something akin to Premonition (2007) or maybe even a kaidan version of Final Destination (2000) but Shinozaki seems almost entirely disinterested in any horror movie aspect. There are a couple of scenes where Kinuo Yamada seems to dream of her husband (?) who perished in the disaster still being alive, even a puzzling scene where she seems to think she is back in a timeline before the disaster happens and is not sure if she is dreaming. There is also Asuka Hino who tells Kinuo Yamada of her own premonition of disaster and then at the very end of the film appears to see this come true.
The frustration of Sharing is that it seems to engage on the issue of psychological mechanisms of coping and does so in ways that it appears that Shinozaki and co-writer Sakai Zenzo have a number of interesting points to make. In particular, Kinuo Yamada has some striking stretches of dialogue that explain the nature of false memories or of how the titular sharing is the process we go through of attempting to deal with grief. It is certainly a well written film and in this respect not an uninteresting one. The disappointment is that the approach taken is an inconclusive one – the argument throughout seems to be that premonitions of disaster are false memories created as ways of coping, although the end of the film Shinozaki throws in a scene where Asuka Hino’s premonition seems to come true and contradict this.
The frustration is also a dramatic one. They key dramatic events of the film seem to have all happened in the past – it is not a work about seeing the premonitions unfold but the less interesting one of attempting to analyse what they mean. Dramatically, it makes for a work that never seems to go anywhere. You cannot help but feel that a director such as Kiyoshi Kurosawa – the man behind Cure (1997), Pulse (2001), Retribution (2007) – who loves this sort of cryptic and unfathomable material would have made a very different and much more interesting film out of the same premise.