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However (Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan 1991)

 Wonderful early TV documentary by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda following two people's path of live to an early death by suicide - one is Mr. Yamanouchi, who works for the Japanese welfare ministry, after giving up his literary ambitions; the other one is Nobuko Harashima, who, as a single child, survived the fire-bombing of Tokyo in WW II but never got her feet on the ground after falling seriously ill. She works on and off as a bar hostess, but gets seriously harrassed by government employees as she applies for social welfare security.

 Two tragic lifes lived "on opposite sides" of the societal system, two people doing their best endlessly struggling - but both ultimately driven to suicide by the Japanese bureaucracy.

 The film title refers to a poem Yamanouchi wrote as a student called "Shikashi ... " / 然し / しかし (meaning However), which is the one his widowed wife reads to the audience during the film. An early Koreeda, definitely worth watching though not easily available. You will have to hunt this one down.

Michael Schleeh


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