Festival Review: Chasuke’s Journey (2015)

Chasuke's Journey

Despite a promising concept of heavenly screenwriters, Sabu’s Chasuke’s Journey ends in an occasionally visually arresting but hare-brained disappointment.

Fallen Angels

by Mark Wilshin

Chasuke’s Journey

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Like a Japanese It’s A Wonderful Life, Sabu’s Chasuke’s Journey begins with a brilliant concept, as heaven’s tea boy gets involved in the lives of those living below, whose lives are being written by screenwriters on ever changing scrolls. A free man not living according to any script, Chasuke is sent down to save Yuri’s life, destined to die in a car accident that evening. It’s a simple love story, but like the supreme being, The Man’s ordinance from above, it needs to be more avant-garde. Which is perhaps why Sabu’s film degenerates quickly into nonsense – with faith healing, yakuza and a rather anodyne brickbat of a message, that we can change our destinies at any time. There are some impressive visual touches, such as the prismatic flares that light the screen in heaven, or the glittering dust that surrounds Chasuke when he harnesses his powers of immortality to cure the sick and ruin the scenarios of miserable scriptwriters, or the finale of black soul projections rising heavenwards. And it’s funny too, rattling through life stories, quoting other movies such as Ghost, Titanic and Gloria – a derivative shorthand blamed on lazy screenwriters. But its momentum peters out into a bloody yakuza comedy with nowhere to go. A confused and at times tedious muddle after a promising start, Chasuke’s Journey is a fun but haunting disappointment.

Chasuke’s Journey is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival

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