Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn (Daisuke Goto, 2003)

Horyu Nakamura and Ryoko Asagi in Daisuke Goto's A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn (2003).

New distributor Pink Eiga just released another couple of films, one of which is A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn, a rural drama about an aging farmer living with his daughter in law. The problem is that the farmer, Shukichi, is suffering from dementia and is slowly getting worse and worse, he doesn't realise that his favorite cow Hanako died a long time ago and that now it's Noriko, his daughter in law, that's waiting for him in the barn every morning. Noriko's husband, Shukichi's son, died a few years earlier and while Noriko has stayed on the farm she and Shukichi has come to have an unspoken love for each other. Things doesn't get easier when Shukichi's daughter comes back to town after ten years and teams up with a local scoundrel who is trying to get his hands on the deed to Shukichi's farm.

The story might make it sound like A Lonely Cow... is just another Japanese film going for the weird and crazy but director Daisuke Goto avoids making things too absurd by keeping the film low key and more focused on quiet emotions and strong acting rather than the sex scenes that pink films are known for. They are still there though.

A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn is, a story about getting old and a story of acceptance, not only of accepting that you will age and become weaker and possibly ill, but accepting that people are different, no matter how cliché that may sound. The scenes where Shukichi tries to milk Noriko, thinking she's his cow, made me think of when people get their whole lives cross-examined in the media, where every little deviation from what's considered normal behaviour, no matter the context, and it makes the viewers/readers judge those people without really knowing anything of what was behind their actions. Take certain parts out of anyone's life and I'm sure you could make it into something very weird. Perhaps it is a bit far fetched to take it that far, but ultimately, what happens between Noriko and Shukichi only happens because they accept each other and in the end themselves for who they are even though they know their love won't be accepted by society.

I hope Pink Eiga will keep it up with releasing these more serious pink films, so far they haven't disappointed.