by Chris MaGee
Back in June we told you about how "Cutie Honey" starlet Eriko Sato was going to head the cast of "Shayo (The Setting Sun)", a screen adaptation of the 1947 Osamu Dazai novel. Now Nippon Cinema has the full trailer for the film due out in Japan this coming June, and I have to say it has me surprised, and not necessarily in a good way.
"Shayo" was the first of a number of movie adaptations of Dazai's works that have been announced in advance of this year's 100th anniversary of the author's birth, and it had me intrigued enough to head to the library to pick up a copy and give it a read. I'll spare you a full book review, but the story of the decline of an aristocratic family in post-WW2 Japan is told in a very free-associative, poetic and I'd hazard to say "Japanese" manner. A great deal of the story of the novel’s heroine Kazuko (played by Sato in the film) who is dealing with sudden poverty, the illness and death of both her mother and drug-addict, war veteran brother, and her love for an impoverished and bohemian writer is heavy with bottled emotion, flashback passages and long sections that take the form of letters and diary entries. I came away from the novel thinking that it would be perfect for an historical drama along the lines of "Howard's End", "The Remains of the Day" or any of the other Merchant/ Ivory productions, so when I watched the trailer and saw that director Masatoshi Akihara had updated the story to the present day and that it appears to be filmed in digital video... well I was pretty underwhelmed.
Follow the link above and judge for yourself... and if you get the chance head to the library like I did and pick up a copy of "The Setting Sun". It's a great read.