The Woodsman and The Rain – CUEAFS Critical Reflection

This Japenese “comedy” from the producers, Kadokawa Pictures is not due to be released until the 11th February 2013, but somehow we managed to be incredibly “lucky” and view this ridiculously slow and boring film before its release date.

I went into this Coventry University East Asian Film Society (CUEAFS) viewing with an open mind as I have never viewed a film from this region of the world. The first five minutes of the film consisted of no talking whatsoever and I couldn’t help but slightly panic that this film may be silent all the way through. After the five minutes of listening to a chainsaw cutting down trees, I had a strange suspicion that this film was going to be slow to pick up. After the next hour, I realized that it wasn’t the fact that the film took a while to improve, but that the whole film was dull.

So why was this particular film so unbelievably vapid, I hear you ask? Well it can’t merely be due to the unimaginative, simple shots and cuts used throughout this film; can it? What about the fact that a minority of the viewers from a Western culture really struggled to empathize with any of the lead characters? Not to mention that several of these Westernized viewers occasionally struggled to keep up with the subtitles and what was going on, on-screen, at all times.

To be fair, there were numerous times where I caught myself laughing, but I couldn’t help but think that this was because I started to find even the tiniest thing slightly amusing as I was slowly loosing the will to live. There was also a specific scene that I could relate to that involved an old actor struggling to film his scene in the narrative as he was suffering from severe buttock pain. How did I relate to this scene? Because I couldn’t help but think about how my own buttock was falling asleep.

But seriously, there were a few points within this film and narrative that did, in fact, interest me. For example, I enjoyed learning about the different culture throughout this film. I also found it interesting to know that this collectivist society in Japan goes through the same problems as westernized, individualist countries (for example: no jobs, teenage stressors, pressure, etc.).

Now, being the media fanatic that I am, I also managed to pick up on a couple of narrative theories and technicalities that automatically boosted my view on this film, even if it was just a tiny bit. The fact that the viewer struggles to understand who this “kid slacker” is throughout half of the film, twinned with the fact that they have a sneaky suspicion that he is someone important, automatically relates to Roland Barthes’ theory of enigma codes: “a theory that suggests a text portrays a mystery to draw an audience in, pose questions and, as such, become intrigued in the piece” – Wiki Answers: What is Barthes’ Enigma Code. Towards the end of the film, I also noticed that there were a couple of motif’s placed throughout the film; these included the directors chair (which was used by the audience to constantly remind them of the narrative), and the rain (used in the title of the film; also used as a signifier to show the beginning and the end of the main narrative plot).

Although I found a minority of points that interested me, I have to say, I do not intend on seeing this film again. My final thought as I left the lecture hall after this viewing? “Do I really have to sit through two more of these?!

Twitter: CUEAFS viewing of “The Woodsman and The Rain”. Dull. Boring. Slow. Let the next be a pleasant surprise. Please.