I went to see the film Parade (based on the novel of the same name by Shuichi Yoshida) at the Watershed in Bristol with some colleagues after work on Tuesday and have been mulling it over ever since. It’s quite difficult to talk about a film without giving too much away. At first, I was taken by the simple drama of the film – it’s enjoyable to watch a movie about a bunch of Japanese youths, especially when you’re as excited to see Japan on the big screen as I am. It was nice just to see things like random back streets, convenience stores, and the way young people behave around each other. I could see some of my ex-students in some aspects of the characters, and it made me smile to think of them.
But this film is so much more than just a Japanese drama. The story is split into chapter-like segments, focussing on each of the main characters who share a small apartment in Tokyo. There’s an aimless college student who’s sleeping with his best friend’s girlfriend, a heavy drinking illustrator who hangs out in gay bars, a straight-laced health nut who works at a film distribution company (and speaks English), an unemployed girl who watches dramas on TV constantly and moons over her actor boyfriend, and a random blonde-haired male prostitute who suddenly appears and starts living in the already cramped flat. They are all outcasts, gathered in one tiny space. Some of them are what one might call a ‘NEET‘ (Not in Education Employment or Training), and all of them are in some way a little bit lost.
I’m not entirely sure what the message of the film was (if there was one). One of my colleagues had an intelligent theory about circles, and how a conversation early on in the film about a non-linear existence summed everything up. Personally, I was too hung up on the ending to decide what I thought of it all. I knew the film was about to end, and I could feel myself wanting to shout “no!”. Japanese films never bloomin’ end. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of Japanese cinema and I rate this film highly, but like so many Japanese films it left me wanting much more due to its lack of resolution. But maybe that was what it was all about – there is no resolution, there is no end, life just goes on no matter what happens.
Parade also looked at the question of how well we know the people around us, taking a look at the many layers of Japanese society and peeping underneath to see what really lies there. When some brutal murders are committed in a nearby park, even the simplest of actions can start to seem suspicious.
Just as a slight aside, the only negative thing I would say about the film was that whoever did the subtitles needs a bit of a slap. They were quite sloppy, and hilariously bad in places, complete with whole sentences that seemed to have been written by LOLCats! I don’t know if the intention was to try to convey some of that particular character’s emotion and style, but it failed miserably. On the plus side, whilst the soundtrack throughout was nothing much to write home about, the last song as the final credits rolled was really good (it reminded me a bit of DJ Shadow). I can’t seem to find out what it was, but you can listen to it here.
I can’t find a decent trailer with English subtitles, but here’s the Japanese trailer: