“Finally to the Sea” Fights Loneliness in Loss

  The works of Japanese director Ryutaro Nakagawa often contain the theme of “loss”. In the movie “A Long Dream in April” (2017), Chu Hai’s ex-boyfriend died in an accident. In “Story of Yuya Street” (2019), the soup house (bathhouse) where the girl Mio worked part-time and the old street where she was located were demolished , the girl Koyomi in “Quiet Rain” (2019) wakes up every day and loses the memory of the previous day; in the TV series “Hold Your Breath” (2021), people lose the conditions to maintain their original lifestyle due to the epidemic. In these stories, most of the protagonists meet new people or start a new life, and are healed to varying degrees. They fill up the loss with something new.
  Unlike these previous works, the film “Finally the Sea” directed by Nakagawa Ryutaro and released in 2022 did not continue this “filling up for loss” model. The main character, Mana’s best friend Sumire, is lost in the “3.11” earthquake and tsunami while traveling by the sea. For the next two years, Mana kept looking for and remembering Sumire. Until the end of the story, she does not accept on a spiritual level that Sumire is dead, and the loss is denied rather than filled.
  At the end of the film, Mana turned to the video camera left by Sumire and recorded the following words: “Sumire, can you hear it? Can you see this side from you? The weather here is fine.”
  Before her disappearance, Sumire often used this A camera to capture the people who are important to you. Sometimes, she talks to her subjects while taking pictures. Sometimes, she narrates without her subjects noticing. Mana watches these images taken by Sumire intermittently, and finally completes the ritual of co-creation with Sumire by transforming herself from the subject of the photograph to the recorder. In this ceremony, she achieved a “heart to heart” reunion with Sumire.
  Therefore, this camera is endowed with a double meaning. On the one hand, the narration of Sumire and the images about Mana captured by the camera guide Mana to perceive and understand her feelings for each other more deeply, and help her establish the belief that Sumire continues to live in the memory they created together. middle. On the other hand, the emotions between them are always connected in a spaced and asynchronous way-the behaviors of the two people using the camera to watch and shoot are carried out separately.
  Not only are they tortuous and ambiguous in their emotional communication, but they also have a great dislocation in their cognition of each other. Sumire has a cute appearance and charm, and Mana envies that she can easily talk to everyone. In Sumire’s mind, the obedience behind getting along with everyone easily will make her a person that even she hates. She thinks that Mana, who is clumsy in communication, can actually bravely express her true self and never force her face for others. laugh. This kind of strong self was exactly what Sumire longed for. They are mirror images of each other, projecting their own longings and lacks onto each other. Being in love is essentially narcissism, and two people who are connected are essentially two lonely individuals.
  In the film, loneliness is presented symmetrically before and after Sumire’s disappearance. Before her disappearance, Sumire was always puzzled when talking to her subjects. Both her boyfriend Tohno and her close friend Mana once felt uncomfortable in front of her camera and told her, “Don’t shoot.” Sumire is undoubtedly a lonely recorder when she narrates to herself. After the disappearance, Sumire has no way of knowing that Mana will watch the video she took, and she can’t hear what Mana said to the camera, “The weather is fine here.”
  If communication between people can alleviate or even make people ignore this kind of loneliness, then Sumire’s disappearance makes Mana strongly realize the double loneliness of herself and Sumire. When sorting out Sumire’s belongings, both Tohno and Sumire’s mother refused to accept Sumire’s video camera. Mana said to Toono dissatisfied, “In her mother’s and your heart, Sumire is dead.” Tohno replied: “Maybe you are dissatisfied, but I can understand her mother, she doesn’t want to create the illusion that Sumire is still alive in her heart. “Tohno’s last sentence, “Has Sumire always been the same to you?”, it hurt and irritated Mana even more. Mana can neither accept that Sumire’s boyfriend and mother have unilaterally announced Sumire’s death (Sumire’s loneliness), nor can she accept that in the end she is the only one who is trying to remember Sumire (Sumire and Mana’s double loneliness).

  Mana seeks, remembers and dreams of Sumire again and again, fighting against loneliness in loss. She repeatedly asked, “What the hell is Sumire thinking?” It seemed that the closer she was to Sumire’s heart, the more she could confirm her existence, and thus confirm their love for each other. Two years after Sumire disappeared, she mustered up the courage to go to the beach where Sumire traveled before she disappeared, and wanted to continue searching.
  At the beach, Mana met a “3.11” tsunami survivor who was recording the stories of other survivors with a video camera. In this way, Mana touches on the more general loss and loneliness.
  Also at the seaside, a female high school student who lost her father and grandmother in the tsunami sang a song for Mana that her grandmother had sung before her death. That song tells the story of a wife waiting for her husband to be buried in the sea. The phrase “one day, one day, I will reach the sea” in the lyrics is the origin of the movie title “Return to the Sea”. But here, the sea does not mean that the living and the dead eventually go to the same destination—death, but it symbolizes a connection between emotion and memory, a spiritual world where the living and the dead coexist. As director Nakagawa Ryutaro said when introducing “Finally to the Sea”: “The feeling of longing for and admiring a person is very similar to missing someone who is no longer alive. This is a ‘love story’ that spans time and space.” In Ryutaro Nakagawa It seems that the love for the living and the longing for the dead are interlinked, and he tries to express this interlinked feeling in the film to transcend loneliness and soothe the pain of loss.
  To be sure, even an inadequate and misunderstood communication can have real consequences for both parties involved. And the common experience that the common memory relies on also exists (over) in reality. This kind of reality is enough to refute the modernity of human beings emphasized by the modern narrative mode – narcissism and loneliness. However, “Return to the Sea” is a story told in a modern narrative mode after all. The modernity of the film is not only manifested in the use of a large number of omissions, flashbacks and flashforward narratives, but also in the difficulty of self-expression of the characters in the film and the alienation of the relationship between the characters. Mana’s store manager’s suicide left her with great confusion. Tohno felt the distance from Sumire, and Sumire took pictures that only she could see. Neither Sumire nor Mana could fully express their inner feelings to each other. The missing Sumire’s missing is something Sumire can’t perceive and Tohno can’t understand… All this constitutes a group portrait of lonely people, in which memories, dreams and cameras are intertwined, but they can’t weave the “reunion” pattern that the director wanted. The sea, like the camera, plays more of a role in the narrative structure of the film to reflect and remind the characters of their inner loneliness rather than to show the connection between hearts.
  Fortunately, narrative structure is not the only factor that determines whether a creator can adequately express his or her intentions. Some landscape shots in the film, especially the sea, are beautiful and have the power to heal people’s hearts. In addition, actor Yukino Kishii, who was born in 1992 and won the best newcomer at the 43rd Japan Film Academy Awards in 2020, has excellent acting skills. Find the “heart to heart” sense of faith. Just watching Yukino Kishii’s performance, you can unconsciously substitute into Sumire at the end of the film, and see Mana say to herself, “I have come to the sea, and I am with you.”