Suicide is a solitary act but the ripple effects of such a death spread pain in an insidious manner through the lives of those connected to the individual who has so abruptly departed. First time filmmaker Natsuki Nakagawa (中川奈月) explores these ripple effects in her intense 60-minute drama She is Alone (彼女はひとり/ Kanojo wa hitori, 2018).
The story centres on Sumiko, played brilliantly by the up-and-coming actor Akari Fukunaga (福永朱梨), a high school student who has lost her mother to suicide. Rather than reaching out and talking to family and friends, Sumiko internalizes her grief. This leads to a cold relationship with her father and a destructive relationship with her childhood friend, Hideaki, played with great sensitivity by Kanai Hiroto (金井浩人). Sumiko is blackmailing Hideaki and as the layers get peeled back on their relationship, we begin to realize that there is a lot more going on in this twisted coming-of-age tale.
The film draws on elements of the thriller and the Japanese ghost story genres. During the Film Talk: Tokyo University of the Arts at Nippon Connection, I learned that Nakagawa is an admirer of the work of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who was her mentor at Tokyo University of the Arts. Her film does emulate the mood of his films, helped in a great part by the fact that she was able to work with Kurosawa’s cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa (芦澤明子). It is a strong debut feature and I hope that Nakagawa continues to grow as a filmmaker.
You can follow director Natsuki Nakawa and actor Akari Fukunaga on twitter.
2019 Cathy Munroe Hotes