FOREIGN DUCK, THE NATIVE DUCK AND GOD IN A COIN LOCKER
DVD. Third Window Films
on a novel by Kotaro Isaka, Yoshihiro Nakamura's film is a curious
hybrid that at first seems a little too quirky for its own good.
But as the story progresses, the eccentricities become more relevant
to the unfolding plot and the strange mystery of events.
It's the sort of plot that is hard to summarise without giving
away major spoilers. Suffice to say that it ostensibly follows
college student Shiina (Gaku Hamada), who moves to university
in Sendai and meets his enigmatic new neighbour Kawasaki. The
pair bond over a love of Bob Dylan, and before long, Shiina has
been drawn into a scheme to steal a dictionary for Bhutanese neighbour
Dorje, ostensibly to help him learn Japanese and understand the
difference between 'ahiru' – the native duck – and
'kamo' – the foreign duck.
This sets the scene for a story about identity, friendship and
revenge where nothing is quite as it seems. There's a strange
mystery at the heart of the film that slowly becomes more apparent
throughout the first hour and then is unveiled in the second.
It's a film that moves from the charming and eccentric into rather
darker territories, and does so without seeming contrived or forced.
It's also a rather biting critique of Japanese attitudes to foreigners,
who are treated with suspicion and fear, and a look at just how
easily reality can be twisted.
Nakamura handles this potentially chaotic story with skill, and
is helped by a personable cast that also includes Eita, Megumi
Seki, Kei Tamura and Nen Ohtsuka. They help create characters
who are believable, even if they stories they tell are not always
A winning mix of drama, whimsy, social commentary and mystery,
this is a surprisingly entertaining, always fascinating little
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