Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Portrait of Brothers

 Signage at the Portrait of Brothers press screening. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I was invited to attend a press screening of Shinichi Yanagisawa's newest film, Portrait of Brothers, which I attended today. The film is set to open in Japan on May 25. Shinichi Yanagisawa, one of the movie's stars, would be best known to readers of this blog as the comic-relief character Miyamoto in The X from Outer Space (1967), though his other work at Nikkatsu and Shochiku studios is certainly more prestigious. Yanagisawa co-stars with Choei Takahashi, who played the male lead in Toho's vampire thriller Lake of Dracula (1971).

Portrait of Brothers is a drama about two elderly brothers who reunite in the small town in which they grew up after the death of their 100-year-old father. The focus is mostly on Takahashi's character, a quiet, serious man who still lives in the small countryside town in which he grew up. Yanagisawa plays the older brother, a more worldly bon vivant living in Tokyo. Yanagisawa's character returns to his hometown after their father passes away, but the completely different lifestyles of the two brothers cause more than a few clashes among them.

Those who enjoy the family dramas of Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse will probably enjoy this movie. More often than not, the movie moves at a slow, deliberate pace, which will no doubt put off some Western viewers. But the portrait of countryside life in Japan in Portrait of Brothers is authentic, and if you're interested in seeing a slice of life from a point of view not often reflected in the movies, I would recommend this film. Besides, those countryside scenes are absolutely stunning.

I would also like to point out that the always lovely Izumi Yukimura (the leading lady of Toho's all-star musical You Can Succeed, Too) has a brief cameo at the very end of the film. It's a very short scene, but she's always a welcome presence in any film in which she appears.

The trailer for Portrait of Brothers is below. I hope those interested in Japanese cinema will give it a look.

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