Blind willows, sleeping woman ***
but Pierre Földes
French, Luxembourgish, Canadian and Dutch animated film, 1 h 49
Earthquakes shake souls as much as bodies. The famous Japanese writer Haruki Murakami became fully aware of this during the Kobe earthquake in 1995. The author, until then anchored in an imaginary world disconnected from current events, then returned to reality, which he mixed with fantasy in his labyrinthine stories.
Seizing six short stories written by the Japanese author after the earthquake and the tsunami of 2011, Pierre Földes, a jack-of-all-trades artist, drew from them a skilful scenario entangling the characters and their trajectory over a perfectly coherent. And yet, on paper, it’s hard to see what there could be in common between a drifting couple, a lost cat, a depressed accountant and a two-meter-tall talking frog…
The story begins a few days after the 2011 disaster. Kyoko, flabbergasted by the images seen and seen on television, decides to suddenly leave her husband Komura, who, disoriented, goes on vacation to take a step back. His colleague, Katagiri, finds an anthropomorphic batrachian at his home who wants to embark him on a fight to the death against a gigantic earthworm lurking in the bowels of Tokyo.
Waking nightmares or magical reality? The borders are always porous with Murakami, as in this adaptation, which perfectly restores the strange and dreamlike atmospheres of his stories. The animation, naturalistic in its approach to the gestures and the voices of the characters, skilfully mixes a cartoon in pastel colors and the fluidity of movement in computer-generated images. A graphic treatment which, thanks to a delicate game of transparency, makes it possible to highlight the unreal visions of each other.
It is this astonishing and bewitching mannerist approach (but perhaps disconcerting for certain spectators) which seduced Murakami, however reticent with regard to adaptations of his work. This also seems to inspire the filmmakers who have made very beautiful films from it, Burning by Korean Lee Chang-dong or, more recently Drive My Car by Japanese Ryusuke Hamaguchi.
These feature films share the same existential obsessions of characters in full questioning, whose journey through history is also interior. A dreamlike fable on the incommunicability of beings, Blind Willows, Sleeping Woman invites you to let yourself be lulled by its mysterious atmosphere, the only one capable, no doubt, of giving meaning to intimate earthquakes.