rating: 3It's very hard to write a review for a Japanese film as I've never been in close contact with their cinema nor their culture so it's difficult to judge how authentic the people that are the protagonists of this story. Himizu is based on a Japanese manga that tells the story of young Sumida who fights for his right to lead an ordinary life, with no need nor desire of being special. It is set post earthquake and tsunami, even though it was not intentional. They were ready to shoot when the March 2011 earthquake hit Japan and according to the director, Sono Sion, they all felt the need to incorporate what was happening into the story. But the earthquake and the desolation are simply a background for this story that moves the audience but also makes them feel uncomfortable. It's hard to relate to the characters of the story, even though some of what happens to them can be shared by many humans, but they react and act in a very strange way, that is hard to comprehend with a western perspective. Sumida's parents are a complete disaster as human beings and as parents. They both are alcoholic and violent towards Sumida. Until one day his mother disappears leaving him by himself. Sumida's class mate, Chazawa, is madly in love with him and also has terrible parents who bluntly tell her they wish she would die. With dis-functional families and a society filled with lunatics and sociopath with killing instincts, the film is a journey through a world of people who have lost and keep loosing not only their hopes and dreams but also the sense of reality. In the end Samida's dream of being normal will just remain a dream as he goes through many events that are far from normal. Japanese's acting style is hard to digest but overall the film is well structured and easy to follow even though many times throughout the film I have questioned if what I was seeing was even remotely close to reality in Japan, because if it is, then they are full of violence, misogyny and hatred. Maybe it's due to the fact that is taken from a manga, but Himizu doesn't feel like a real portrait of a society but more of a abstract painting that re-adapts reality through its own filtered lens. Sono Sion's direction is a mix of fast paced action and slow moments filled with nice shots and nice composition. It definitely serves the purpose of shocking the audience and forces us to think about our relationships as human beings and the fact that maybe some things we give for granted, like the love of a mother towards his children, may not be axiomatic in some families.