A young couple finds the simplicity of their life as rice planters causing a strain in their relationship, with the titular Saotome seemingly unhappy and wanting more from life than the humble job of a rice planter. After a day in the field, she has a change of heart and finds reason to let love back into her heart.

“Saotome”‘s greatest success lies within it’s ability to romanticize something that would otherwise be seen as mundane. It captures this by focusing on the life of rice pickers, working diligently through the rain and coming together to support each other. The cinematography and score are both geared towards capturing simple beauties, and despite a rather sub par audio and visual presentation due to quality, still manages to create visual intrigue.

The dialogue in the film is minimalist, instead favoring atmosphere to convey the found beauty of the life of a rice planter. Following the day of a group of workers, the honesty and perseverance of their work are conveyed in a romantic fashion, which signifies Saotome’s change in attitude. The narrative is served well through this message, and a lot is conveyed through silence and atmosphere. However, the film’s subtext doesn’t do a great job of explaining the final statement, as although Saotome finds solace in her lover, she gives a statement which leads the viewer to believe there is still something wrong with her choosing to stay. Unfortunately, the saddening conclusion, leads more to confusion in the titular character struggles.

Director Tokio Oohara manages to craft a profound moment of lovers uniting towards a better future, and the minimalist approach allows the viewer to take in the simplistic joy of a smaller community working together. Unfortunately, the film falls short of properly exploring all facets of the relationship, and leaves with an awkward, unanswered revelation. Having previously covered his film “Summer Purification” I certainly have some admiration for the emotional strength of the directors’ works, leaving me with faith in the directors future productions as she further develops her creative voice.

Hello, my name is Adam Symchuk and I am from Canada. It was during my teenage years that I became fascinated with Japanese film, in particular, exploitation and horror. I carried my fascination with the genre with me as an adult and began to grow a deeper appreciation in various genres from Japan, Korea, Thailand, and China. I hope to grow my knowledge of film across Asia and will continue to explore this through my reviews.