Maboroshi no hikari (Maborosi) (Illusion) (1995) - Rotten Tomatoes

Maboroshi no hikari (Maborosi) (Illusion) (1995)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Maboroshi no hikari (Maborosi) (Illusion) Photos

Movie Info

In Japan, the Maborosi refers to a mysterious beautiful light that lures sailors to their deaths far out at sea. This poetic, exquisitely photographed drama tells the story of Yumiko, a young woman trying to make sense of her first husband's mysterious death. She is no stranger to mysterious loss. When she was 12, Yumiko was in charge of taking care of her senile grandmother. The old woman wandered away one day and was never seen again, leaving the girl haunted by deep feelings of remorse and guilt. As a young woman she marries Ikuo and bears him a son. The couple are very happy and spend all their free time together. The happiness is shattered when one night a policeman appears to tell her that Ikuo had deliberately walked in front of an oncoming train and was killed. Years later, after she remarries, Yumiko begins investigating her first husband's death and learns disturbing things from the bartender he had seen just before death. This leaves her wondering what happened and why.
Art House & International , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
TV Man Union


Makiko Esumi
as Yumiko
Naomi Watanabe
as Tomoko Tamio's Daughter
Midori Kiuchi
as Michiko (Mother)
Akira Emoto
as Yoshihiro
Goki Kashiyama
as Yuichi, Yumiko's Son
Hidekazu Akai
as Master
Hiromi Ichida
as Hatsuko
Minori Terada
as Detective
Ren Osugi
as Hiroshi, Yumiko's Father
Kikuko Hashimoto
as Kiyo Yumiko's Grandmother
Takashi Inoue
as Driver
Sayaka Yoshino
as Yumiko as a Young Girl
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Maboroshi no hikari (Maborosi) (Illusion)

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (5)

The tale is told in contemplative wide-angle shots; the absence of any spurious, unearned intimacy with the characters makes the climactic scenes profoundly moving.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The film, which was made with only natural light, draws the viewer into its spiritual mood with one breathtaking shot after another, as the camera draws back to contemplate Yumiko from afar.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Nothing is casual and nothing is wasted in Maborosi.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Maborosi is one of those valuable films where you have to actively place yourself in the character's mind. There are times when we do not know what she is thinking, but we are inspired with an active sympathy.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Maborosi is a worthwhile movie experience not because it ventures into virgin territory, but because its presentation is so precise and unique.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

[Hirokazu's] also one of the most empathetic filmmakers, softly guiding viewers through his meditations on life and death.

Full Review… | July 16, 2005 (Ohio)

Audience Reviews for Maboroshi no hikari (Maborosi) (Illusion)

Even on his earliest work, Hirokazu Kore-eda showed his talent for combining beautiful camerawork and music with an emotionally resonant story.

Jon Jonson
Jon Jonson

I knew nothing about this film before I watched it (rare in itself) and not a whole heap more after it had finished. I don't speak Japanese, so even the title gave nothing away. It's a slow film, a mood piece I guess about the aftermath of a young woman and her child's lives after her partner commits suicide.. Not a lot happens but its very lovely to look at and watchable in a subtle kind of way.

Lesley N
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

It's interesting to compare Hirokazu's first feature with his latest, both of which are concerned with how people mourn and reconcile with the death of family. Still Walking is shot mostly in static medium shots and closeups and relies heavily on dialogue while Maborosi features a great deal of long shots and its power derives from its gorgeous visuals. I heard that the style of this film was influenced by Hou, and clearly enough there is a similar shot sequence pattern, repetition of shots, and framing. Actually the empty shots sequences are like a synthesis of Ozu's pillow shots plus Hou's formal repitition. The dream prologue seems to be a homage to A Time to Live and a Time to Die. The cinematography starts out fairly ordinary and gets much better, the landscape shots are truly beautiful, and the scenes shot during dusk are eye-popping in their use of shadows.

X. T. C.
X. T. C.

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