Still The Water, film review: Japanese coming-of-age drama is worth persevering with

(15) Naomi Kawase, 119 mins. Starring: Nijirô Murakami, Jun Yoshinaga, Miyuki Matsuda
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This is a slow-burning, very Japanese coming-of-age drama. The contemplative approach is off-putting at first but the film is worth persevering with. Once you settle in to its rhythm, the storytelling becomes ever more beguiling.

The main characters are teenagers Kaito (Nijirô Murakami) and Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga), growing up on a sub-tropical island. The film has barely started when they see a tattooed corpse washed up on the shore. Kaito's parents are separated and he has a grudge against his mother for splitting up the family. Kyoko's mom, meanwhile, has fallen ill.

Every emotion the young characters feel is reflected in the natural world around them. The director Naomi Kawase gives us a few too many poetic shots of banyan trees, waves beating down on the pier or Kyoko swimming underwater like a dolphin but the film is beautifully crafted. It has a delicacy and lyricism about it that you will never find in any Hollywood movie about troubled youth.