A Film a Week - Come & Go


Lim Kah Wai is a Malaysia-born Japan-based filmmaker best known for his drama movies that frequently revolve around people living in a country and in a city which is not of their own. With “Come & Go”, he has completed his “Osaka Trilogy” that he started almost ten years earlier with “New World” (2011) and continued with “Fly Me to Minami” (2013). In “Come & Go”, which premiered last autumn at Tokyo International Film Festival, he uses the so-called hyperlink plotting to paint the complex texture of a big city that is not always kind on its inhabitants and visitors. The film also played at Tallinn Black Nights, in the non-competitive programme called Current Waves.

A body of a dead woman is found in the Osaka’s neighbourhood of Nakazaki-Cho, but the police investigation about how she died and ended up there is just a small part of the film’s plot, while the neighbourhood itself, its inhabitants and visitors and their lives are the things Lim is interested the most. The victim’s neighbour lists himself in the adds as a “middle-aged man to rent” for any one who needs an odd job to be done. A Burmese student is about to be expelled from the university because she cannot make enough money for the tuition fee despite working on two jobs and withstanding her boss’ sexual advances on one of them. A girl new to the town almost ends up in the pornography ring, before deciding to try her luck as a nightclub hostess. A bi-racial Japanese-American feels under pressure from his colleagues at the parking lot job. A Vietnamese worker gets in trouble with his bosses and the law for insisting that, despite his contract, he should be allowed to take a break and visit his mother. A Nepalese immigrant has a dream of success in the restaurant falls for his Japanese teacher who also happens to be the wife of the police investigator. On the other side of the spectre, we also have a Malaysian businessman who came to give a lecture about the possibilities for the tourism sector, a lonely Chinese man dissatisfied with the shopping-based guided tour he came with, a Taiwanese pornography enthusiast who visits the shops and cafés specialized in certain kind of goods and services and a Korean pimp and his squad of girls posing as Japanese AV actresses in order to swindle some shady Chinese business people…

The sheer number of subplots and characters involved (who might have or have not met one another until the end of the film’s over 150-minute runtime) is a dead giveaway that Lim is not interested to go in depth with any of them. However, he goes quite wide with his script, followed by the functional directing style, in painting the complex landscape of the second-largest Japanese city and a hub of sorts for people from all over the Asia-Pacific region. The variety of languages and dialects spoken pretty much defies the traditional vision of Japan as a mono-cultural country, reveals a number of social issues and personal consequences in a highly globalized world.

The series of switches between the vignettes does not do much favour to the actors who can hardly leave a mark playing their under-developed characters in the circumstances of inflation of both characters and events, but at least on the technical level “Come & Go” is a decently done film. The ever-present funk-rock soundtrack by Takashi Watanabe goes quieter and more down-tempo as the film goes on, following the general mood. The cinematography handled by Kiochi Furuya exposes the glamour and the skid row of a big city neighbourhood and Lim’s own editing makes this mosaic story at least followable if not particularly involving and borderline exhausting due to its runtime and entanglement.

Some streamlining in the writing process would make “Come & Go” a more efficient film, but even convoluted as it is, it has a considerable informational value as a landscape painting of the city and the people and their destinies in it.

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