Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No Longer Human = The Fallen Angel?

Ningen Shikkaku movie poster

Written by Osamu Dazai, “Ningen Shikkaku” (No Longer Human) is considered as a masterpiece ranked second in terms of best selling novel in Japan. Narrated from a first person point of view, Ningen Shikaku is about the life of Oba Yozo, a good looking, talented young man from a prestigious family whom is incapable of revealing his true colors to others, forcing him to put on a jolly facade. The novel is structured in three chapters. Childhood, adolescents and adulthood.

I have yet to read the novel but last week, I had the chance to watch the film adaptation of the novel. Honestly, I was a little disappointed by it. It’s a little unfair to have such high expectation especially when I’ve never read the novel. But I felt that there is a lack of repression of the character? Hmm

The childhood part was really brief. It started with Yozo’s birthday and ended up with him saying ‘sorry for being born’. I don’t get this part at all! Maybe I’m not a sharp audience? Then the story proceeds to tell about how Yozo (Ikuta Toma) met Hiroki (Iseya Yusuke), the man who introduced him to women and alcohol. Soon, Yozo got sick of his lifestyle and decided to commit a double suicide with a married woman. She died but he survived, causing guilt to take over him. Things got better after that and he got married to a naive woman and Hiroki had to appear again, causing Yozo’s life to be in chaos again. Drugs, failed suicide attempt, mental asylum, Oedipus complex, self destruction...

Instead of ‘No Longer Human’, the English name for this film is ‘The Fallen Angel’. You can definitely see the fallen part but what happened to the return of the repressed part? It could have been a model film to study about Freud’s psychoanalysis. Also, why angel? Cause Yozo's no longer human? And because of that he gets to be the Fallen Angel? I just couldn't like the name.

Numerous film reviews felt that Yozo’s role was a miscast. I wouldn’t say that Ikuta nailed the character but he didn’t do a bad job either. He was quite convincing when he look at Hisako and when he’s drunk. But perhaps co-star Iseya sort of outshined Ikuta and made me felt like the movie is sending a message about peer pressure. Pick the wrong peers and you’ll flush your future down the ocean and become a drunkard or in better words, transform into a fallen angel?

134 minutes with poor story telling felt like I was on a night bus to somewhere far. At least you get to sleep on the bus! Until a very long time later, I guess I won’t be giving this movie another go.
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