[JFF] Shinsan: A Serenade in a Coalmine Town 信さん・炭坑町のセレナーデ (2011) – Japan

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This is a fine piece of work in a lot of level – human lives, childhood, growing up, dealing with losses, friendships, love and human emotions and time. Perhaps the only flaw is that it tries to deal with too many issues. However, let’s not get carry away, as this is a certainly a film to watch. Director Hideyuki Hirayama (who briefly gave us a few words prior to the screening) does extremely well in focusing on characters, developing emotions, bonds and friendships. In particular, he lingers longer during the 1960s period, which to the benefit of the film is also the most interesting part. Life is never easy and never for a moment did Hirayama tries to sway from it, but for he provides hope in the midst of the beautiful blue sky and sea in every other scene to juxtapose with the situation. What I like about this film is that the director lingers the camera with minimal editing, allowing the actors to talk, enjoy themselves and when they are playing baseball, you feel like you are part of their game. It is filled with such strong emotions. Shinsan: A Serenade in a Coalmine Town is easily one that touches the core of the audience’s soul and the issues that it explores are pretty much universal and timeless. Although some parts of the films tend to be underdeveloped, but Hirayama uses the show not tell principle extremely well. His cutting of death sequences is also one that takes you straight to what happened without the corny and slow-motion process. Instead of showing the struggle of death, Hirayama prefers to show the aftermath of a tragedy and focus on how people react, emote and embrace the situation in their own ways. This is a powerful piece of work and has the ability to move and emote with the audience. All in all, Shinsan: A Serenade in a Coalmine Town succeeds because it goes back to the root of human baseness and strike a chord with the audience’s own childhood experiences. It is film that is hard to dislike, because it is truly a good film…

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Neo rates it 8/10

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