Notable Cast: Nina Endo, Sumire, Takayuki Yanagi
Last year Mr. Miyazaki, Daisuke that is, suprised me with his Japan Cuts selected film, Yamato (California), a film I went into completely blind and walked out of with his name on my radar of fresh talent to keep an eye on. In less than a year after seeing that lovely work, I'm honored to receive a chance to see his follow-up joint, Tourism, a carefree and chill travelogue video that breezes by in a quick 70 minutes as our two leading ladies keep us entertained on our brief but very memorable journey.
Nina and Su are two very bored Japanese women looking for a getaway that they weren't quite conscious of. One night when they and their roomate are all debating on moving away, Nina recieves a message on her cellphone, claiming that she one a pair of tickets to visit a country of their choosing. Naturally Nina pairs up with her best friend and the two choose at random, after a couple of scares from their male roomie, whose name escapes me, to venture forth to Singapore. Without any delay, they pack up and head off to their travel destination.
There is essentially no plot progression to Tourism, but its freeflow narrative and very shoot on the fly attitude works to every advantage and provides great strength aesthetically to a lacking story. Simply put, this is a piece that doesn't need a three part act structure, it just goes on a relaxing ride and brings you along for the enjoyment.
I love how the film mixes up its styles and methods as it plays out. We see traditional shooting with natural lighting, which stays consistent throughout, juxtaposed with cellphone recordings from Nina or Su's perspectives and at times they even include social media elements, such as image modifications from something like Snapchat. I usually don't like these sort of things in movies but this particular film is very much about the people of modernity and it reflects that quite honestly, for better or for worse. At times it's cute and at others, when the camera pans away from our leads to see actual locals gazed into their mobile devices, it brings a bit of a sigh out of me.
Occasionally the film breaks away from its own fun and we see a more real side of Singapore. It's not an ugly side as most films showcase other countries when things need to switch it up a little but rather smartly engages in the local Singaporean culture and gives us quiet moments with real people and it is in these moments that Tourism elevates into something more than just an entertainment piece. It's a nice reminder of the beauty in life often overlooked by the darkness that surrounds us.
Miyazaki's sophomore feature is quite a departure from the more socially political driven Yamato (California), but this direction and shift of tone and content is quite welcoming. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Nina and Su and I would gladly take a trip with them again. This is a gem for cinema fans to seek out in 2018.
Written by Josh Parmer