Ok, since I just got to see one of Miike's latest films yesterday - you can never be sure which one exactly is his latest - and I have (again) 20 minutes left until the next screening, I thought I'll write down some lines.
46 Oku nen no koi Big Bang Love, Juvenile A
(2005 / Japan / Takashi Miike)
Miike's "Big Bang Love, Juvenile A" was shown yesterday in the Panorama section for the last time at the Berlin Film Festival, and some audience members may have not been prepared for what was coming. This film isn't one of Miike's more inventive or stunning films, but one of his more compact and initially more coherent outings, though there is still plenty experimentation to awe the casual moviegoer.
Set in an undefinable place and space it is a Parabel on the power of love and a reflection on current Japanese society. The original Japanese titel means literally translated "460 Million Years of Love" and refers to the time segment in which life has been developing in our solar system. As one may deduct from this title, what Miike does imo, is that he tries to identify life with love, meaning that the "reason" why man exists, the things that can in the end redeem him and make a life worthwhile - no matter how it has been lived - is love. Miike thus comments on a very spiritual level about the human existence, but places his inquiry like many times before in extreme conditions.
Two juvenile delinquents who have been charged for murder are being sent to prison, where almost the entire narrative (besides some flashbacks) takes place. They are Aryoshi Yun a seemingly fragile and timid youth, and Katzuki Shiro who at first glance appears to be very similar, but is more like the other side of a coin. Being very athletic and seemingly self-assured, he is nevertheless haunted by his past. Both guys are presented with homosexual undertones, but nothing is ever explicitly stated. If a love relationship or a deep friendship develops is up to the viewer, but both persons lives become intertwined in this fateful encounter. While the agressive Katsuki seems to protect Aryoshi it is Aryoshi who is at times presented as a christ-like figure and who in the end "saves" Katzuki's life through death.
In one of the most haunting scenes of the film (and believe me, the film has many), a blue ray of light emerges from a peeping-hole through which Aryoshi has been gazing out of the cell and pierces him right through the heart. This motive is repeated in two dream-like segments that show him holding his chest where at the place of his heart a trickle of blood is leaking out. In fact the whole film has a circling structure, with several key scenes being repeated from different angles throughout it. One device to make this structure plausible plot-wise, is the investigation of the murder of Katzuki as one layer of the film. The policemen assigned to this case question the prisoners and wardens numerous times to find out the truth. But the two main characters - and with them Miike - are also in search of the truth, though their journey leads to a destination which the mathemathical procedures of the judicial investigation could never produce.
It is in these interview-scenes that Miike's intentions first become obvious, when he doesn't give us a traditional questoning scene with the commited cop trying to find out the truth, but instead adresses the viewer directly. The interviewees are presented facing the camera in frontal position and answering the questions directly into it. A further intimacy between them and the viewer is established through the employment of superimposed intertitles that keep silently asking the investigators' questions, thus further bluring the dividing line to the viewer and making us wonder where these questions are actually coming from, and what their exact aim could be. A questioning of the truth which in the end leads the viewer to assume an existential crisis. And Miike shows us that although the cops have filed the case, their results don't offer any satisfying answers.
The Film is beautifully photographed with an expressive color palette and a lighting that mostly keeps the backgrounds clouded in the deepest black. Maybe this was also due to production restraints, but Miike creates a virtue out of this enforced theatricality, finding a stylistic sureness that is impressive. In one scene (see screencap above) we are presented with a wide angle shot that shows us the prison from a bird's eye view, with the cells chalked on the ground, creating a claustrophobic image that isn't simply a reference to von Trier's recent usage of the same device, but stands in the films stylistics firmly on its own. In other scenes, Miike creates a surreal and dream-like atmosphere, when he shows us the two protagonists amidst a rocket launch pad or what appear to be two aztec pyramids. The use of fragmented space and time opens up places for the viewer to contemplate the films rich offerings.
Hopefully more people will be attracted to Miike's world, with this fascinating portrait of imprisonment, an imprisonment that is extended to all of society and can be only broken through the mind. It is in these moments of freedom that love is created.