Hakuchi (Hakuchi: The Innocent)

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Director Macoto Tezka's harrowing drama is set in an alternate version of the 1990s in which World War II never ended and the citizens of Japan are subjected to nightly bombing raids. Japanese cult actor Tadanobu Asano stars as Izawa, a lowly production assistant in the corporate monolith Media Station, housed in a gleaming building that towers above the ruins of Tokyo. He lives in squalor among pigs and chickens in an old tailor's house, and he perpetually contemplates suicide. A noose invitingly hangs from his ceiling if the mood were to strike. Media Station's number-one idol is the beautiful but malicious Ginga (Reika Hashimoto). Everyone in the company quietly loathes the spoiled star, but they put up with her because of her enormous popularity. Yet Ginga becomes enraged when her advances on the thoroughly uninterested Izawa are thwarted. Meanwhile, Izawa discovers a young woman, the wife of the neighborhood lunatic, hiding in his room. Soon an odd sort of relationship develops between these two deeply lonely souls. The woman quietly remains in Izawa's room during the day and sleeps with him at night. Later, the nightly air raids crescendo into a fiery apocalyptic climax. The Innocents was screened at the 1999 Venice Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi


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