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

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

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.