The Mourning Forest (Mogari no mori)
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Machiko, a young nurse, has just taken on a new job as a carer at a retirement home, where the residents are quietly edging their way into dementia. Among them is Shigaki, with whom Machiko slowly develops a close bond after some initial adversity. While Machiko privately mourns the death of her young son, Shigaki openly continues to miss his late wife, who died nearly 33 years ago. He is especially moved at this time, as he is desperate to bid his beloved a last farewell.
As a birthday treat, Machiko takes Shigaki out for a drive. When the car goes off the road, Machiko goes for help, but Shigaki wanders off into the beautiful, at times treacherous forest, seemingly in search of his wife’s burial site. Machiko follows, but the pair become lost and must spend the next two days battling with Nature and their personal distress.
With ‘The Mourning Forest’, director Naomi Kawase returns to her signature themes of broken families, lost loved ones, nature and mourning, in a work that is quietly moving and punctuated with moments of childlike joy. The liberal use of a handheld, observational camera gives the film an extraordinarily naturalistic and intimate feel as we accompany two tormented souls on a journey to peace.