Japanese documentarian Hirokazu Kore-eda made his first dramatic feature with this austere drama, which recalls the visual and narrative style of Yasujiro Ozu. Yukimo (Makiko Esumi) is married to Ikuo (Tadanobu Asano), a happy and humble man who loves her very much. While Yukimo and Ikuo are content in their marriage and have a beautiful infant son named Yuichi, Yukimo is haunted by visions of death. She has a recurring nightmare in which her grandmother leaves her home to go to the village of her birth to die, as Yukimo weeps uncontrollably. Yukimo's sad obsession foreshadows a real tragedy in her life when she wakes one morning to discover that police are at her door -- Ikuo has died after apparently committing suicide along the nearby railroad tracks. Yukimo is shattered and spends several years in solitude, until she meets Tamio (Taketoshi Naito), a widowed fisherman who lives in a nearby village with his daughter. They fall in love, and Yukimo marries him and moves into his home. She begins to find happiness anew, until she returns to her old home for her brother's wedding, which brings back a flood of troubling memories. Maboroshi no Hikari (which translates as "Illusory Light") was a multiple award winner at the 1995 Venice International Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
This movie is shot in a dark, brownish tone that is not appealing. The shots are mostly long or wide, which serves to keep the characters at a distance from the viewers. It is difficult to find a relationship to the characters. The plot is very slow to develop. This was a waste of time; I will steer clear of this director.
There must be something somewhat interesting in this movie that I missed. In looking at Amazon's ratings for this movie, viewers either treasured something about it greatly, or were as horribly bored as I was. I love Japanese culture & movies, & am learning to speak Japanese. I don't THINK it's a culture thing. But if you like the idea of watching the usually-sad main character sitting in a gloomy room, looking out of the window, or at a gloomy-looking sea for long, long, long periods of time - this movie may be for you. (Best Japanese movie I've seen so far would be Twighlight Samurai - beautifully filmed, far from a typical "samurai" theme - exceptionally different role for Hiroyuki Sanada, who really shows how his love for his 2 young daughters shapes everything else about his life - to the dismay of his coworkers, other poorly-paid "petty" samurai who work in the clan's food storage area. Has great reviews here & at Amazon.)
Wished I read the Blockbuster customer reviews before renting this. Very little plot and character development, but somehow kept my interest for about 80% of the movie. I, finally realized it was not going anywhere, and the ending (or lack thereof) proved it. Had it not been for the endearing kids in the movie, I probably would've fallen asleep about 1/2 way thru.