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A bus is hijacked; only the driver (Yakusho, from The Eel and Shall We Dance?) and two school-age passengers survive the bloodbath. Two years later, the driver returns from his mysterious wanderings, finds life with his family awkward, and moves in with the brother and sister, by now utterly speechless and living alone (at least until their student cousin also comes to stay). Meanwhile, a number of local women are murdered. The slightly bogus serial killer subplot notwithstanding, Aoyama's lengthy, but never over-long study of psychological trauma and regeneration is beautifully shot (in monochrome 'Scope), acted, and directed; at least until the last two shots, an elegant understatement holds sway, even allowing for wry, gentle humour to be slowly but surely introduced into the otherwise serious proceedings. Like his superb lead actor, Aoyama achieves a lot with a little, proving that one needn't shout to be heard. Ozu, one feels, would have approved.

Release details

Duration: 217 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Shinji Aoyama
Screenwriter: Shinji Aoyama
Cast: Koji Yakusho
Aoi Miyazaki
Masaru Miyazaki
Yohichiroh Saitoh
Sayuri Kokusho
Ken Mitsuishi
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