Did life mess with Jun or did Jun mess with life?

A review of “Bad Poetry Tokyo”, a film by Anshul Chauhan

by Anup Narayanan

It is a matter of pride indeed when a filmmaker chooses new and unfamiliar terrains to ply his craft. Anshul Chauhan, a Director of Indian origin has made waves with his Japanese feature, “Bad Poetry Tokyo”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y11aS6o_Gs

 

The film creates its space using elements that are familiar to the audience – An aspiring actress (well portrayed by Shuna Iijima), bar hostess, mafia, male dominance, unethical boyfriend, bad childhood and incest… we have seen that before.

The stand out moment for me in the film is Jun, Yuki and Ken bathing in the river. Nude, child-like and unrestrained. A moment of innocence. Was the river a metaphor for baptism? A rebirth?

But, halfway through the film, the narrative diverges. Anshul demonstrates his craft by making the audience ponder;

Did life mess with Jun or did Jun mess with life?

Or, is the truth somewhere in between?

And, that’s the moment the journey of Jun merges with the journey of the audience.

The film is set to a gentle pace and melancholy tone. The colours are subdued – Tokyo and the countryside are set to mild tones. The background score is present without seeking attention.

A good storyteller, especially a storyteller who uses films as a medium, knows what to tell and what not to. Anshul excels by leaving deep, empty spaces in the film – the untold stories. And, these empty spaces become deep pools where the audience dives, searching for answers, foraging for meaning.

The stand out moment for me in the film is Jun, Yuki and Ken bathing in the river. Nude, child-like and unrestrained. A moment of innocence. Was the river a metaphor for baptism? A rebirth?

And, in the end, as Jun runs through the hills, we are left to ponder whether she is running towards to end or to a new beginning?

Bad Poetry Tokyo is now streaming on Vimeo.