Yojin is a hyperactive young man living in small Japanese town. After we are introduced to him he seems more erratic, eccentric and nonsensical (his local doctor describes him as ‘wired differently’). We soon realize that he is more than just exuberant when he asks a passing kid to bury him in his cabbage patch and douse him with chemicals (which is even worse, because he and his grandmother are organic farmers). Yojin revives form his chemical bath a different person. In a smart twist on the Jekyll and Hyde story, Yojin arranges to buy pesticide which he sprays on himself in an attempt to feel like a ‘normal’ person and woo a new kindergarten teacher. Bare Essence of Life has an odd, off-kilter sense of humour and an unpredictable but captivating narrative. It does drag on for about fifteen or twenty minutes too long but it is a sweet, slightly sad film. It’s also a parable about evolution, organic vegetables and what it means to be normal.
Young director Yokohama Satoko is a total original – keep an eye on her. The film is on Tuesday the 6th at noon and the 11th at 11:40, both at the Granville. Watch the trailer here.