The Land of Hope

The Land of Hope
The Land of Hope

Format: Blu-ray + DVD

Release date: 26 August 2013

Distributor: Third Window Films

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono

Cast: Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Otani

Original Title: Kibou no Kuni

Japan 2012

133 mins

From offbeat horror oddities such as Exte: Hair Extension (2007), where various victims are attacked by their hairstyles, and the epic story of love, religion and panty-shot photography that is Love Exposure (2009), to the brutal dystopia of Himizu (2011), Japanese director Sion Sono has gained a formidable reputation for having an exceptionally unique approach to filmmaking. The Land of Hope is a slight departure from his usual extremes, without being completely bereft of his surreal sense of humour and the occasional excursion into overtly symbolic imagery.

Throughout this poignant domestic drama, Sono succeeds in achieving a restrained and proficient balance between naturalism and the visually poetic as he tackles head on a monumental disaster and its tragic repercussions. The only problem with the film is his overbearing use of classical music, which often feels cheap and unnecessary. But skillfully avoiding spectacle, the director’s heartfelt authenticity is unquestionable, making this his most accessible and personal film to date.

This review was first published as part of our Terracotta 2013 coverage.

Robert Makin

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