Man Walking on Snow

"Excellent"

Man Walking on Snow Review


Welcome to the end of the world. Mashike, Japan is a forlorn fishing village on the Western coast of Hokkaido where, as in Sarah Palin's Alaska, you can see Russia from your porch. When winter slams into the town, life pretty much stops, and the people turn inwards, finding plenty of time to stew over resentments going back decades.

That's how life is for 65-year-old widower Honma (Ken Ogata), a semi-retired sake maker who lives in a humble house with his younger son Yasuo (Yasufumi Hirashi). Father and son pretty much despise each other and make great sport of hurling insults back and forth, but since Dad needs help with the daily chores of life and the aimless Yasuo needs a place to stay, the two are stuck with each other.

Daily relief for Honma comes in the form of the long walk he takes faithfully every day (we get to see him take it three times in the course of the film) through the snow and past an ice cream shop where, amusingly, he always stops for a cone even in blizzard conditions, to the town's salmon hatchery. There he enjoys inspecting the baby fish as they grow in small containers, watched over by the young and cute Michiko (Sayoko Ishii), a woman Honma isn't afraid to admit he has a crush on. Unfortunately, Michiko reveals her plan to move to Okinawa to be with her boyfriend. "From one end of Japan to the other," she jokes. "Maybe you'd stay if you married me," Honma only half jests.

Back home, Honma starts studying a map of Japan, and he manages to get into a shouting match with Yasuo over the issue of whether Okinawa has winter and whether its mountains are snowcapped or not. The only break in this tedious routine comes when the second anniversary of Honma's wife's death approaches, and he hopes his elder son Ryoichi (Teruyuki Kagawa), will show up for the traditional ceremony.

For his part, Ryoichi, a failed musician with a pregnant girlfriend, is as directionless as his younger brother, and the resentment between the two of them is brutal. Even though Yasuo chooses to live with his father, he demands to know why Ryuichi isn't carrying his share of this annoying burden. Why can't Yasuo run away and try to find himself in Tokyo like Ryuichi did? Why can't Ryuichi take his turn as Dad's caretaker?

I'm a fan of films that take me to a place I know I'll never go and introduce me to people I know I'd never otherwise meet, and Man Walking on Snow certainly fits the bill. What a strange place, and what an odd family, bound together mainly by their ability to hurt each other's feelings and accuse each other of grievous crimes against the family. As the patriarch, Ken Ogata is great. As miserable as his Honma is, he also seems to be enjoying his misery, at least a little bit. I don't think I'll ever forget the weird imagery of him making his way along the snow-blasted streets of his miserable town while an eerily slow electronic version of the French Can-Can song plays on the soundtrack.

Aka Aruku, hito.

Baby it's cold outside.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 17th July 2002

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Masahiro Kobayashi

Producer: Masahiro Kobayashi

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.