Last year, Fish Story walked away with Reel Asian’s Audience Award. In this riotous follow-up, director Yoshihiro Nakamura bases his film’s title on a song from a seminal band, although this song from The Beatles happens to be a bit better known this time. But unlike Fish Story, which borrows from a multitude of genres, Golden Slumber is very much in the vein of action thrillers such as The Fugitive. Still, the plot’s sublime unpredictability is very much intact, leaving the viewer guessing how it will unfold.
Aoyagi is a delivery man with a cheerful disposition, until the day he is framed for a bombing that kills the Japanese prime minister. Although initially oblivious to the seriousness of the case, Aoyagi soon has the police chasing him, and he is forced to find ways to elude his captors. The scenario unfolds much like a strange alternate reality in which the aftermath of the John F. Kennedy assassination is told from Lee Harvey Oswald’s perspective.
Despite this setup, Golden Slumber is not a film about political intrigue. The director is more interested in our antihero’s travails, as well as the procession of bizarre characters that come to his aid. Throughout the film, Aoyagi never loses his trust in people, and it is this quality that gives this semi-comedic film a surprising emotional depth. After all, why should anyone believe him? And what does the Beatles song have to do with it, anyway?
As with Fish Story, the ending here is spectacular, while the payoff is remarkably different: less cathartic, and more bittersweet. The journey, though, is worth it. Care to take it with us?
– Raymond Phathanavirangoon
Cast: Masato Sakai, Yuko Takeuchi, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Teruyuki Kagawa
Yoshihiro Nakamura was born in Ibaraki, Japan, in 1970. He first worked as an assistant director for Yoichi Sai of Quill (2004) and Blood and Bones (2004) fame, among others. He made a name for himself as a screenwriter with works such as the horror film Dark Water by The Ring director Hideo Nakata. His directorial works include The Booth (2005), Route 225 (2005), The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker (2007) and Fish Story (2009), which won Reel Asian’s Audience Award last year. Golden Slumber (2010) is his latest feature.