Time Out says
You could say ‘Hanezu’ is the story of a troubled young couple – Tetsuya (Tetsuya Akikawa) and Kayoko (Hako Oshima) – living in the Nara region of Japan. She dies scarves, he works as an editor and they live together, but she is also in a secret relationship with Takumi (Tohta Komizu), a wood-carver, and may be pregnant with his baby. But the extract we hear from an eighth century poem at the beginning of the film also connects all of them with more distant times and universal cycles: the voiceover tells us that, just as mountains used to fight with each other in ancient myth, in more recent times ‘men contend over women’. An arresting open image of rocks being quarried at an archaeological site (which also closes the film) and many intimate and wide shots of nature and landscape remind us that Kawase isn’t as interested in Tetsuya and Kayoko’s domestic crisis for its own sake as much as she wants to place it in the grander, stormy movement of time.
A meeting between Takumi’s grandfather and the ghost of an old friend wearing a soldier’s uniform, presumably from World War Two (‘we used to play together… life hasn’t changed much’) only strengthens the dialogue between generations. This film feels as light as a feather – so much so that it threatens to float off on its own weightlessness. Yet the absence of any measure of hysteria or melodrama in telling the tragic details of Tetsuya and Kayoko’s story and Kawase’s easy, observational shooting style are always alluring. It’s easy to go with the mystical flow of ‘Hanezu’, even if not always to understand fully its references to Japanese history, poetry and myth