My experience with Takaomi Ogata has had an unusual path, since I started with his third film, “Sunk Into the Womb“, then I watched his fourth, “The Hungry Lion” and now his debut, “Never Ending Blue”. What becomes clear no matter the order, though, is that his trademark is using shock to comment on various social issues, with this tendency finding one of its apogees in this film.
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Kaede is a high school student who will take her college entering exams next year. Her mother and father work as regular salary men, and, in the beginning of the film, they look like a regular family. Kaede’s discomfort though, is palpable, despite her efforts to hide it from her fellow students, and soon the story turns into one including abuse, self-injury, incest, and unwanted pregnancy, with the situation escalating as the movie progresses.
Takaomi Ogata directs, pens and is in charge of the cinematography of a film that follows the mellow lines of the Japanese family drama for the most part, in a tactic though, that seems to be implemented in order for the shock element of a number of appalling, but highly realistic scenes, to be more intense. These scenes are the ones that, actually, shape the film, with Ogata pulling no punches in the depiction of actions that are considered taboo globally, to say the least.
In that fashion, suicidal tendencies, extreme passive-aggressive behaviour, neglect, and the concept of denial are highlighted in the most extreme fashion, with Ogata leaving no room for excuses or point-of-view arguments, in a story where the perpetrators and the victims are separated in the most obvious fashion possible. Furthermore, and as in “Sunk Into the Womb”, the director makes a rather pointy remark about the concept of parenthood, and the misconception that every human being, and particularly women, are cut out to be parents.
Yumi Sawai’s editing implements the film’s aesthetics in a rather unusual fashion, with the cuts between the various scenes, which, occasionally, are part of the same sequence, including blank (dark) screens that stays on screen for some seconds before they disappear. In some very strange way, though, this tactic fits the movie, and particularly the intense scenes, since they function as if the one providing the point of perspective is closing his eyes due to the events occurring in front him.
Maki Mizui (who herself has experienced self-injury) as Kaede gives a great performance as she highlights her constant effort to hide her discomfort, while her conduct in the shocking scenes is utterly realistic, in a very difficult role, overall.
“Never Ending Blue” is obviously a film that is not addressed to the masses, particularly due to its theme and its depiction of it, but for the ones who can sit through the shock, it provides an illuminating experience that sheds light in a number of concepts no one wants to talk about.