Everyone keeps calling Peace an 'intimate film' and I guess I have to agree. Director Soda Kazuhiro's work might even inspire us to think that there is a documentary film in an any situation, and that might be right. This is not to say that the story of Kashiwagi Toshio is not illuminating and extraordinary. He is a man in his seventies who spends his time driving physically and mentally challenged people around in his van. Through an elaborate bureaucratic scheme, he is reimbursed for gas, but (as he tells new drivers at an orientation meeting) there is no hope or thought of turning a profit. Why does he do it? For the same reason that he is the steward of a small cat colony with a rotating membership. He has a big heart and is compelled to help.
His interactions bring him into sharp focus but they also tell a story about modern Japan, about people on the margins, about isolation and about caring. The most interesting client is Hashimoto Shiro, a 90 year-old man who smokes Peace brand cigarettes despite his lung cancer and lives in a tiny apartment. He often apologises for any inconvenience he might cause others. In an amazing moment, he opens up to Kashiwagi's wife, remembering his time as an enlisted man in the Japanese army when, he says, men were only worth the price of the postcard sent to call them up. You get the feeling he hasn't told these stories to anyone in a long time and that, perhaps, it is not something people in contemporary Japan want to hear about. This is a quiet film, but it has a quiet power.
Watch the trailer here. No more screenings.