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The Parades - Movie Poster
Original Title:

Japan 2024


Michihito Fujii

Masami Nagasawa
Kentaro Sakaguchi
Ryusei Yokohama
Lily Franky
Shinobu Terajima
Tetsushi Tanaka
Nana Mori
Yuina Kuroshima

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The Parades

The Parades - Film Screenshot 1

Story: After a tsunami, Minako (Masami Nagasawa) wakes up on the beach and desperately searches for her little son. When none of the rescue workers answer her, she suspects that something is wrong. Eventually, she meets Akira (Kentaro Sakaguchi), who is able to see and hear her. He takes her to a small group that includes director Michael (Lily Franky), ex-yakuza Shori (Ryusei Yokohama), bar owner Kaori (Shinobu Terajima) and former banker Tanaka (Tetsushi Tanaka). There Minako finds out that she has died and that she is in a world in-between because there are things she regrets and cannot let go. She is warmly welcomed by the group, but it takes Minako a while to get used to her new reality. The group offers to help her find her son. In the meantime, Minako also finds out what the other group members regret. Michael has not been able to finish shooting an important movie that sheds light on his own life, while Shori, for example, has been in this intermediate world for seven years now because he is not able to visit his then-girlfriend to see how she is doing. Then the schoolgirl Nana (Nana Mori) shows up, who has taken her own life. Together they try to find their way into the afterlife.

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The Parades - Film Screenshot 4

Review: I didn't expect too much from "The Parades". The plot is clear pretty quickly and you know what to expect. But the execution is surprisingly honest and to the point, with some excellent performances, especially by Lily Franky. In addition, as you get the impression that things are treading water, the story manages to open up a meta-level with the movie within the movie, which turns out to be quite fascinating. In the end, "The Parades" is a drama that does not just sit heavily on your stomach, but instead it also makes you smile. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some scenes that could bring tears to your eyes. In the end, this well-done balance gives this inconspicuous movie some special moments. It also doesn't hurt that the cinematography is sometimes very dreamy, but without carrying you away into an abstract world of the afterlife. It all feels very real and tangible too. For this reason, the scenes that may seem a bit unoriginal on paper also end up being quite touching.

The Parades - Film Screenshot 5

A good example for the last point is the yakuza. His story may not win any awards, but at the latest the scene in which he sees his former girlfriend again manages to convey a depth and honesty that you wouldn't have expected. In addition, that scene is happening exactly when you get the feeling that the movie is somehow not moving forward. After that, Lily Franky ("Shoplifters") and his excellently played director, who is still attached to his past and filmmaking, gives the plot a successful meta-level that keeps running throughout the story. The medium of movie serves him as a means of processing his life and the things he regrets. It's a similar story for Akira, played by Kentaro Sakaguchi ("Hell Dogs"), who tries to record the world in-between and by doing so wants to establish a bond with his father, who in turn has started to write in order to overcome the death of his son. It is also praiseworthy that even the smaller stories all get the room they deserve and come to a worthy conclusion in one form or another. At the center, however, is the story of Minako, who is desperately looking for her son.

The Parades - Film Screenshot 6

Masami Nagasawa ("Mother") is tasked with conveying the emotions of a mother who, on the one hand, wants to find her son in the world of the living, but at the same time is confronted with the fact that she will forever be separated from him if she does. While it becomes clear that Minako is the red thread of the movie, she often has to take a back seat in favor of the other storylines, though. Somewhere along the line, the director in particular turns out to be the second driving force of the movie. At a certain point, the schoolgirl Nana joins the story too. She shows us how far Minako has grown and how much better she can cope with her feelings now, but Nana also pushes the limit in terms of what makes the movie seem overloaded. Nevertheless, her story is interesting too and, above all else, it creates a beautiful framework bringing everything together. Because of that, the ending is a lot more rounded off and satisfying than you would have thought at first. So, being concerned about the plot lacking structure was therefore unnecessary, as director and screenwriter Michihito Fujii clearly had a plan with his story.

The Parades - Film Screenshot 7

The cinematography is also very appealing. The director has already proven having a knack for atmosphere and light with "Village". Here, the cozy lights of the deceased's "base of operation" and the "transmigrations of souls", when once a month everyone helps each other to find their relatives, are particularly impressive. The story is also accompanied by a well-done score, which is unusually melodic. Thanks to the atmosphere and the skillful directing job, the dramatic scenes reach an extraordinary depth, and you catch yourself getting lost in the thoughts and feelings of the characters more than usual. As I said, this is not only thanks to the performances, the direction and the story, it is actually how all these individual aspects are linked. Just as the individual stories are linked. Each storyline on its own could easily have seemed a bit hackneyed, but thanks to the good structure and the way the characters lean on each other on an emotional level, they get far more colorful and lively.

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The Parades - Film Screenshot 10

"The Parades" could easily have seemed too long with its 132 minutes. And especially after the first 45 minutes, you get the impression that the story couldn't possibly keep us entertained for so long. But you turn out to be wrong, and the way in which the movie deals with remorse and also celebrates life, is executed wonderfully. Still, the director sometimes takes on too much material. Nana's story about bullying at school seems too short, the student protests in the 60s are unlikely to mean anything to Western audiences, and Tanaka's role is also left hanging in the balance. Even though the movie could have scared off some viewers with an even longer running time, you have to ask whether this wouldn't have made an even better movie out of "The Parades". Despite everything, we get a beautiful, realistic, but sometimes also dreamy drama in the end that revolves around life and manages to leave you with a smile and a warm, fuzzy feeling.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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