The Mourning Forest

Directed by Naomi Kawase, The Mourning Forest is a visually and emotionally beautiful film about a young lady called Machiko, who works at a retirement home nearby a vast forest. Shigeki, a retiree at the home forms a strong connection with Machiko, as she reminds him greatly of his deceased wife. Although the relationship starts off badly – Machiko gets struck down by Shigeki after she tries touches one of his possessions, which she shouldn’t have – the two quickly become attached to one another, as they play games in the fields. Despite the fact that there is a huge age difference between the two, they have a common love for childish games such as hide and seek. When Machiko takes Shigeki on a drive in the country as a birthday present, things don’t exactly go to plan when the car gets stuck in a ditch. Shigeki runs off, as the two continue a more serious version of hide and seek in the forest. During their time under the canopy of trees, they learn a lot more about themselves and each other.
There is a strange sexual tension between Machiko and Shigeki, which makes the film so interesting to watch. Both characters are tremendously well acted, as you really feel for them and understand the connection they appear to have. The sound design is amazing, and is a highlight of this film. As there is minimal dialogue in this film, a lot is driven by the vivid visuals of lush landscapes and a subtle musical score and soundscape.
Despite the fact that this is a really slow movie, with not a huge amount of action, the characters keep you interested. I strongly recommend watching it – if only to see the chemistry between the lead actors.