A Scene at the Sea

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Shigeru (Kurodo Maki) works part time as a garbage collector, but he thinks his path in life will take him elsewhere. A lot of chances in life are closed to him, as he has a severe hearing problem and that prevents him being able to do some things, though most people wouldn’t even give him the chance to try. His girlfriend, Takako (Hiroko Oshima) has the same ailments as him, but the two seem to get along quite well together. On his usual collection route once, Shigeru discovers a broken surfboard in the trash and his mind swells with becoming a champion level surfer. This might sound strange, but once he has his mind determined on a goal, it seems as though nothing can stop Shigeru. With Takako at his side for support, he ventures into the ocean and tries his first attempt, but fails and has the entire beach laugh at his efforts. But he is unshaken and with Takako’s support, he works to improve his skills and is steadfast that he will not give up. Can Shigeru overcome the odds and live his dream and if so, how will his life change as a result?

A Scene At The Sea is a very simple story at the core, but it has a lot of emotion as well, which is what drives the film. I think the performances are very strong here and considering the limitations of the main characters, that feat is even more impressive. I think the actors provide a real incentive to see this motion picture, even if the storyline is a little thin at times. The material doesn’t call for much beyond basic characters, but the actors are able to bring across their roles well enough to keep the viewer interested. Another problem aside from the thin plotline is the pace, which moves slow enough to put some folks to sleep. But if you’re used to rather natural style films, then this one shouldn’t be much of a change, it just lacks the action most modern film fans need to remain interested. Add in some terrific direction and a nice visual spark, and I think this is a good little film that often gets overlooked. This disc offers little in terms of value, so I state my recommendation as a rental.

This film has a rather small cast of workers, but all of them seem to turn in superb performances. The great majority of the film is carried by the leads and they’re both in fine form, despite having some tough roles to fulfill. Kurodo Maki (An Angel With Many Scars, Brother) is able to bring across just the right blend of emotion here, especially once his character begins to chase the dream of surfing for the championship. His role requires little in terms of flash or dominant presence, but Maki is more than able to use subtle touches to define his character. His screen partner here is Hiroko Oshima, who also works within the same limited character type and is able to make it work very well. This was her screen debut and I have to say, I am impressed and I hope to see her in more works soon. The two work very well as a team also, which ensures the romance and companionship angles are intact as well. The director here is Takeshi Kitano, who also helmed such films as Hana-Bi, Sonatine, Violent Cop, Boiling Point, Kikujiro, and Kids Return.

Video: How does it look?

A Scene At The Sea is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This is a good transfer, but I wish it were anamorphic and a little sharper overall. The detail level is decent, but the slight softness present lowers the effectiveness of the colors and contrast, which is not good in the least. Some scenes look excellent though, with crisp contrast and bright colors, but most of them look rather bland. The print looks cleaner than I expected also, which is always welcome and that adds a little back to the score. In the end, this is a nice transfer, but the lack of anamorphic enhancement keeps the score down.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a film about two people who never speak, so as you can imagine, audio is rather basic here. The included stereo mix uses the original Japanese language track, which is great and it sounds pretty good. This material doesn’t need much range aside from the musical score, which comes off in fine form in this mix. The sound effects are minimal here, though the ones present are more than decent in this mix. The amount of dialogue is also minimal, but again, what is found here sounds very good. This disc also includes English subtitles, in case you’ll need them.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc contains no bonus materials.

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