100 Best Contemporary Japanese Movies – [1] Sway (Yureru- ゆれる) Joe Odagiri & Teruyuki Kagawa in acting duel!

Sway (Yureru) features three amazing Japanese talents (with Joe Odagiri in the lead) who excelled in this mystery-drama-thriller involving a love triangle that turned deadly, sibling rivalry and Japanese legalese.

What the Movie is all about: A murder investigation reveals a deep-rooted sibling rivalry in director Miwa Nishikawa’s brooding family drama. On the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death, Tokyo art and fashion photographer Takeru (Joe Odagiri) returns to his small hometown to pay his respects. But all is not well back home, and when Takeru’s authoritative father questions his sincerity, the frustrated son strikes back with accusations of violent conduct.

Though the situation is initially diffused by Takeru’s older brother Moniru (Teruyuki Kagawa), who stayed behind to run the family business, tensions once again start to run high when Takeru, Moniru, and lovely childhood friend Chieko (Yoko Maki) decide to celebrate their reunion by taking a hike in the wilderness. Tragedy strikes, however, when Takeru wanders off to photograph the landscape while Minoru and Chieko get into a heated argument on a suspension bridge. After rejecting Minoru’s advances, Cheiko falls to her death. Takeru saw nothing, and though Minoru claims responsibility for Chieko’s death the authorities still launch a full investigation.

With the evidence against Minoru mounting, it quickly becomes apparent that the older sibling is deeply resentful of the fact that he was forced to remain at home with his overbearing father as Takeru departed for Tokyo and began living the good life. Cheiko’s rejection was merely the last straw for Minoru, who subsequently rejects his brother’s help and places himself at the mercy of the powers that be. [ Narrative by Jason Buchanan ]

Why you should watch this movie: Joe Odagiri is in top form as he plays an arrogant art-fashion photographer who left the small town to settle in the big city. Leaving behind his family including his older brother played by Teruyuki Kagawa who was great playing the kind but insecure and volatile Minoru and his flame Cheiko (Yoko Maki who looks quite alluring).

The amazing on-screen chemistry between the actors with a good number of suspense and the dramatic scene which distinguishes the movie from a whole bunch of Japanese dramatic thrillers.

Featured Film Critique: Tom Mes over at Midnight Eye wrote this review-

Sway is a film on the gaping chasms between countryside and city, between family life and ‘freeter’ existence, between patriarchy and individualism. Between an old Japan that refuses to go away and the young who desperately wish it would but who lack the strength and the ideas to speed up the process. The difference may only be a more glamorous shade of dull. The Takerus of this world may have turned their backs on their fathers, but they have no alternative to offer themselves or their generation, let alone the generations that are to follow. What they have is superficial, hedonistic: fashion, consumption, glossy magazines, acting cool. When the basis is unstable, the swaying starts. Miwa Nishikawa’s Sway is about Japan today – questioning, investigating, challenging, perceptive. [ read more ]

Cinema Without Borders’  Tobe R. Roberts wrote a similarly positive (4 out of 5 stars) review:

Sway is a heavily character drive film, with Takeru taking the reigns, we are completely subjected to his viewpoints. Through his past history and his self-revealing thoughts which cause us to vacillate from the metropolitan life he now lives to the simple life that the country and traditionalism inherently carries. Through the catalyst of his older brother Minoru, Takeru must come to grips with his ailing family life and make straight his path. Strongly reflective, Sway is a film that keeps you gripping to your chair with every passing moment. [ read more ]

Sway is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Miwa Nishikawa (Dear Doctor, Dream for Sale).

The movie also won the Best Film award at the 2007 Yokohama Film Festival and the Best Film award at the 2006 Mainichi Film Award.


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