JOURNEY TO THE SHORE (2015)
aka Kishibe No Tabi
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japanese Language with English Subtitles
Available on dual format from Eureka Entertainment
After going missing three years previously, Mizuki’s husband Yusuke finally returns home but informs her that he is in fact deceased after drowning at sea. Determined to come home to her, his presence is met with utter joy as he convinces Mizuki to join him in travelling to other beautiful places around Japan to help others he left in the lurch.
From director Kiyoshi Kurosawa comes JOURNEY TO THE SHORE, a fantasy drama that deals with loss and grief through the two main characters who travel around the country helping others to pass through to the other side and those who are finding it hard to grieve and accept the loss of their loved ones. With many questions left unanswered and things left unsaid, it’s no wonder there are individuals stuck in our world who should no longer be here. Tied here by their living loved ones, be it spouse or otherwise, they cannot be freed until their loved one lets them go or until they can accept and move on with their new life beyond the living. It isn’t always someone else keeping the spirits on Earth though, as Mizuki discovers on their journey. Some individuals do not know they have died and it takes a while for them to realise and accept that this is the truth. For some it’s easier to accept than for others and when the time comes, the individuals can have changed so much that they’re struggling to remember their once lived life.
JOURNEY TO THE SHORE takes the viewer to some beautiful little places, from a small town paper office to a rural school and we see the lives of the different communities and how Yusuke has affected everyone in them. The variation of lifestyles and careers is interesting to see as we get an insight into these people’s lives and the struggles they are dealing with, be it a living member missing the deceased or a trapped soul unable to continue their journey.
As much as this is a heartwarming drama, the story does suffer a bit from it’s slow pace and, at just over two hours long, it does feel a tad overstretched. Even though the married couple visit three different families who need their help, it’s essentially the same story explored three different ways. From a genre angle, there’s nothing overly supernatural about this movie in thriller terms as long as you accept that these spirits manifest themselves as a spectre that can be touched, heard and seen by everyone. At the heart of the movie though, this is an emotional tale that deals with heartache, love, anger, resentment and everything that goes into a relationship and family matters and that, in the end when all’s said and done, do all those little niggles and minor sins matter?
A pleasantly shot film with a romantic score heard throughout, JOURNEY TO THE SHORE is a whimsical take on death and dealing with bereavement but unfortunately doesn’t leave a lasting impression.