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Be Sure to Share - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Chanto Tsutaeru

Japan 2009

Genre:
Drama

Director:
Sion Sono

Cast:
Akira
Eiji Okuda
Ayumi Ito
Keiko Takahashi
Sousuke Takaoka
Toshiki Ayata
Taro Suwa
Mitsuru Fukikoshi


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Be Sure to Share

Be Sure to Share - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Shiro Kita (Akira) works for a magazine and has a wonderful girlfriend (Ayumi Ito). He still lives at his parents', Tetsuji (Eiji Okuda) and Izumi (Keiko Takahashi). One day he gets a call by his mother that his father has collapsed. At the hospital they get the sobering diagnosis: Tetsuji has cancer. From that day on Shiro visits his father every day for an hour at the hospital. Before the illness the two never had a lot to say to each other since Tetsuji has also been Shiro's PE teacher and was very strict with his son. But now Tetsuji even tells his son about his wish to go fishing with him. He once was at a beautiful lake and wants the get better as soon as possible for him and his son to go there. Thus, Shiro starts taking an interest in fishing and already prepares for the trip. However, since he is, like his father, constantly having a pain in the stomach he gets a physical examination as well and can't believe the words of his doctor that he has cancer, too. Shiro's cancer is even more aggressive so that it may be possible for his father to outlive him. For now, Shiro isn't telling anyone about his condition since he doesn't want it to have a negative impact on his father's recovery, but it's time to finally share a few things with his family. Or at least with his girlfriend...

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Review: "Be Sure to Share" surely is one of the last movies we would have expected to see from the director of the extreme, Sion Sono. The man who only one year prior brought us a four-hour epic around love, religion and pop culture in the shape of "Love Exposure" now shoots a movie about a father's fight with cancer and death? Yes, and by doing so Sion Sono once again proves his versatility as this potential tearjerking drama doesn't work againt the genre's prerequisites per se and thus delivers a great way to cry your eyes out. At the same time the director also adds a few grotesque scenes, the kind of we are used to see from him. Despite that "Be Sure to Share" is an unusually quiet and reflective movie which works a lot on a subtle level and centers around the retionship between father and son and impending death.

Be Sure to Share - Film Screenshot 5

As the credits tell us the death of his own father was the rason for the director to bring this moving drama to the screen. And one of the film's main themes is how wasted opportunities are only realized when a loved one has passed. But especially when it comes to family it becomes apparent that every family member can just be the way he/she is and that promises being made can't always be kept, even if they are made with all your heart. Accordingly, a bittersweet element runs through the whole drama. The father's illness makes father and son get closer than they ever were before. A wonderful idyllic family life unfolds which takes its time on screen. But towards the end this at times also slightly tiring process of laying the drama's groundwork pays off since the whole complexity of emotions is carrying maximum weight this way after all.

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Yet, the narrative of the film and the tranquil family gathering is constantly counteracted by flashbacks of Shiro's past. Shiro's father in fact was a very demanding tyrant who didn't provide his son with an easy childhood. Accordingly, father and son have rarely exchanged words. But that's not the impression you get after the movie's initial minutes. Sion Sono strongly works with different time levels in "Be Sure to Share". He jumps back in time mulptiple times, only to jump back into the present every now and then or even travel to a time level somewhere between. The fact that it still doesn't become arduous to follow the events is the effort of a smart narrative structure. For instance, every now and then we get to a point in the story we have already seen, but just this time from a different angle. Or the background story of an important element is laid before us so that it becomes easy to make out the flashbacks.

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Acting-wise there is nothing to find fault with. Akira, from the J-Pop-Group "Exile", convinces as the son, Ayumi Ito ("The Blue Bird") is responsible for bringing some more emotions, in the shape of tears, to the table than the rest of the cast and Keiko Takahashi ("Zen") gives a very reserved, but memorable performance as the mother. Yet, highlight of the cast is Eiji Okuda ("Goemon") as the father, who embodies a pretty complex individual. His authoritarian nature, which stands out in the flashbacks, contrasts his efforts of looking as healthy as possible in front of his family, even when he is actually dying. Since Shiro serves as a narrator most of the time it's almost safe to assume that his memories of the past may have been warped a bit. Or his father wasn't able to show his love for and interest in his son but by authoritarian education.

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Emotions are often covered by a mask. On the one hand this naturally has socio-cultural reasons - in Japan you simply don't show your feelings prominently, even in front of your family - and on the other hand this is also the big issue because of which the son hears of his father's wish to go fishing with him so late in life. The movie's title is also turning up several times in the story and is to be understood as a plea to share your feelings in a more direct manner, so that you don't regret one day not having done so. "Be Sure to Share" can be pretty profound and also has a few grotesque scenes, like the one when a dead body is taken to a lake for fishing. This may remind you of Kim Ki-duk, but Sion Sono's intention isn't to shock his audience at all. He simply lets his protagonist act the way it helps him to cope with his grief. Furthermore, the director also shows his philosophical streak in a small scene with a bus driver. Sometimes people very dear to us pass away, but the bus of life continues driving forth...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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