A photograph of a moment, “Datta-Hito” (literally “one who was”) captures a transition in a woman’s life, symbolically and practically embodied in a big red suitcase.
In fact, the suitcase is the first thing we see, appearing through the door in a small empty flat that very much looks like belonging to a man. Misato (Misato Mochizuki) is a young woman in red and she is there to get the last of her possessions and leave that flat behind. She lingers, soaking up the last few moments in a space that – together with its owner – has probably been a significant part of her life. Memories are embedded in that place and Misato takes some video files of her in happier times from the computer and delete the originals. Can she delete herself from the flat too? When she closes the door behind, her hand hesitates a moment before dropping the key in the post box; but only just for an instant.
Yusuke Fujiki’s short movie is an account of a closure, but also a snapshot of the volatile passage from past to future. Shot with realism and no dialogue, it effectively and empathetically encapsulates the feeling of sorrow and melancholia of the end of a relationship. However, there is an assertiveness in the young woman and an aura of positive energy around her that prevents the film from falling into easy sentimentalism. Moreover, the red touches contrasting with the otherwise beige visual, keep the audience’s eyes firmly on the protagonist and her vitality, against a background that is already fading away.
I don’t know much about the director as all the info are in Japanese, but a tour though his Instagram account reveals a great talent in catching moods and inspirations, in framing & composition and in cool visual storytelling. “Datta-Hito” is a standalone but it could be part of series of emotion snaps compilation or – even better – the beginning of a feature film. Good luck for that!