Friday, May 1, 2009

Laurence Thrush's hikikomori drama "Left Handed (Tobira no Muko)" screens in Los Angeles

by Chris MaGee

Starting yesterday, April 30th, and continuing right through until May 7th the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is bringing a fantastic selection of film from across East Asia to audiences in California. Japanese film fans will be getting a special treat with chances to see such recent hits as Ryosuke Hashiguchi's "All Around Us", Sion Sono's "Love Exposure" Yokiro Takita's "Departures", the premiere of Naoto Takenaka's zombie comedy "Yamagata Scream", and Kazuo Hara's classic 1987 documentary "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On". Amongst these is another film that will probably be of special interest to Japanese cinema fans.

British director Laurence Thrush focuses on the troubling phenomena of hikikomori, young people (mostly males) who withdraw completely from society in his 2008 film "Left Handed (Tobira no Muko)". Shot in somber black and white Thrush tells the story of Hiroshi, a teenager out of step with his classmates and family. One day Hiroshi locks himself away in his room, and what his parents at first think is a tantrum eventually turns into two years of isolation. Hiroshi's mother Yoshiko does her best to keep up the appearance of normalcy, but eventually she has to admit that her son has totally broken down. The film then follows her as she struggles to help Hiroshi.

"Left Handed (Tobira no Muko)" has already been awarded the Best Feature Award at last year's Rhode Island International Film Festival, and will screen at LAAPFF on May 5th at 9:45 p.m. at the Laemmles Sunset 5 Theatre.

The subject of hikikomori is one that's interested me for a number of years now, but I never felt that it had been properly dealt with cinematically. While I've just seen the trailer and a number of stills from "Left Handed" I have to say that I'm intrigued. It looks like it has the potential of being the most compelling look at these urban recluses yet. Take a look at the trailer below to judge for yourself and afterwards check out the film's official site here.

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