Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fantasia '16 film review - If Cats Disappeared from the World

A young postman (Takeru Satoh) is happy jovial and friendly to everyone he meets as he rides his bike along his route. Suddenly he's thrown off his bike while peddling along the boardwalk. A visit to the hospital follows where he learns that he has late stage brain cancer and only a short time to live. The mailman returns home to find a spirit sitting in his apartment. The visitor who is a mirror image of the postman promises extra days of life in exchange for removing an item from the world. The spirit will pick but the catch being the item will truly be missed and any connections formed through it will be lost as well.

Realizing he could die any day the mailman calls his old girlfriend who he meets for lunch.  The pair discusses how great their conversations were on the phone and how their relationship started due to a misdial and the fact that Fritz Lang's Metropolis was playing in the background. They can't seem to find a reason why they broke up and at the end of the day the postman reveals his condition. Returning home the spirit takes away the first item from the world phones. Because phones are gone the wrong number never occurred meaning his ex-girlfriend no longer has a memory of him.

Genki Karamura's graphic novel serves as the backbone of the film Director Akira Nagai builds on the book along with screenplay writer Yoshikazu Okada. As each day passes the devil takes more items from the world leading the audience to wonder at what point will the postman say stop. The other section of the narrative tells the mailman's family story starting from when they take in a stray cat that they name lettuce through the complicated father son dynamic all the while focusing on the close relationship that the postman has with his mother.

The talented cast performs their roles well. Meiko Harada distinguishes herself as the family matriarch. She is allergic to cats but soon grows to love lettuce even more than her son. She is the warmth that contrasts her industrious husband. She battles a personal illness for a good portion of the film but puts her family first.

Filled with an abundance of emotional moments If Cats Disappeared from the World is a genuine heartwarming film. The storytelling builds relationships both in the present and through flashbacks. It makes the viewer realize how important items are as a tool to start a relationship. The film also displays the internal dialogue that each individual has with death and when forced to face it the  struggle to get to a point where they are at peace.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

If Cat's Disappeared from the World | Akira Nagai | Japan | 2016 |103 Minutes.

Tags: Brain Tumour, Mailman, Cats, Phones, Clocks, Movies, Argentina, Buenos Aires, The Devil, Metropolis.

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