Presented in the Nippon Cinema Now section of the Tokyo International Film Festival, “Remember to Breathe” is director Sugita Masakazu’s second feature film, after “Joy of Man’s Desiring” in 2014, winner of a special mention in the Generation section. Berlin Film Festival Kplus.
Based on an original screenplay by Sugita, the film stars Inoue Mao as Yuko, a mature woman who suddenly finds herself living with her estranged mother (Ishida Eri), after the latter starts a fire in the house. of his son and daughter-in-law. right. Over the course of the film, we learn, more through her silent expressions than her words, why Yuko has such a hard time getting along with her mother, who seems to be the fun-loving and even caring type, quickly befriending the a neighbour’s young daughter. . But in the final scenes, all is devastatingly revealed in a highly focused and carefully calibrated performance from Inoue.
“While I was writing the script, I knew the role of the girl would be difficult because she has to express her feelings through her atmosphere, not her words,” Sugita said in an interview with “Variety” at the festival’s Tokyo. Midtown main location. “It takes a very inner performance.”
Looking at the work of Inoue, who had previously acted in dramas and pop movies but had since moved on to more serious fare, Sugita saw that she was “acting from a deeper place. She could be persuasive just by standing there, not saying a word. So, I knew I had to have him (for the lead role). ”
Sugita admits that Inoue hesitated before accepting the role. “I asked her to accept the challenge of making the film with me,” he said. “She finally decided to do it as a chance that might only come once in her acting career.”
Unlike his previous film, which was based on his own experience as a survivor of a major Kobe earthquake in 1995, “Remember to Breathe” is not autobiographical. “This time I wanted to put some distance between me and the story,” Sugita said. “I had to use my imagination to write it.”
He also wanted to avoid the kind of over-explanation that is so common in Japanese films, including indie films like his. “I’m a little worried that foreign audiences will have a hard time understanding Yuko’s character, because she says so little about her feelings,” he says. But he has no regrets about his subject and his less is more approach. “What can I do (as an individual creator)? What is the potential of films? I thought I could answer these questions on my own.