After his win with “Poolside Man” in the Japanese Cinema Splash section in the 2016 Tokyo Film Festival, Hirobumi Watanabe has gone on a creative spree that has him shooting one film per year, following the same cinematic recipe. This time, he strays a bit away from his usual narrative style, since “Scream” does not include the lengthy dialogues (monologues more correctly) of his previous works, in essence functioning like a silent film.
The quite thin story revolves around a man played by Watanabe himself, who tends (owns) a pigsty somewhere in the Japanese country. The film shows his everyday life in a very naturalistic fashion, with him tending the pigs, taking care of his elderly grandmother (including brushing her dentures) and eating with her, sitting in a roof watching the valley, and taking a hike in the agricultural roads of the area he leaves. Each part is accompanied by its own sound: the pigsty with the sound of the pigs, his time with his grandmother with silence, the sitting on the roof by the sound of the wind and the hiking with quite an intriguing percussion music. Apart from a scene during the end where he goes to the cinema to watch a movie, in a scene that seems to have been part of his previous film, “Life Finds A Way” (as is the case with the scenes with his grandmother), the aforementioned is all that the movie comprises of, in repetitive fashion.
Considering Watanabe’s wildly weird sense of humor, one could connect the pigsty part with the name of his production company, Foolish Piggies, while the whole of the film could be perceived as an ode to the mundane, to the everyday people that spend their lives following a routine, and nothing else. (In my humble knowledge, the life of livestock breeders is similar to that). This aspect, along with the presence of his grandmother, makes the film quite personal, but at the same time, quite difficult to focus on, and subsequently, to follow. Furthermore, the title seems to play with a number of things, since it could refer to the sound the pigs make, the fact that the breeder wants to scream how boring and repetitive the his life is, while the spectator could also scream at some point, “Why isn’t anything happening?”
On the other hand, the presentation of the pigs is quite interesting, Yuji Watanabe’s percussion music the same, the black-and-white cinematography by Woohyun Bang works quite well in documentary-like fashion and Watanabe gives a rather naturalistic performance, in perfect resonance with the film’s aesthetics.
Not much more to say, this is a very difficult film to review, unless someone perceives it as a surrealistic, but documentary-like rendition (I realize how wrong this sounds) of the movies of the silent era, while I feel that Watanabe has fallen in the trap of repeating himself. Nevertheless, fans of his previous movies will probably enjoy this one too.