Well, it took me a little longer than a year to get around to watching this a second time but I feel the distance (from Awards Season if nothing else) helped a lot – knowing where the dots are joined, however, definitely makes a second viewing more revealing.
The huge thing that prevented me from hands down adoring this movie the first time I saw it was, as I think was true for many others, the Rinko Kikuchi storyline, the entirely looser connection to “the whole” compared to the other threads being the main reason. Even that first viewing, I still wanted to overlook that flaw because the story in itself, primarily due to Kikuchi’s astonishingly moving performance, was the one that really got to me the most. That’s still true – but I realised something else about it this time around that makes overlooking the flaw entirely unnecessary. If you just look at the movie thematically rather than as interconnected stories, really, the Kikuchi storyline is perfectly connected to the whole. I won’t elaborate any more than that, there’s tons of speculation on the IMDb etc and it should really be left to the individual to make up their own mind.
The editing really struck me on this viewing too, the transitions between the stories are really old school juxtaposition, like from laughing Japanese schoolgirls to herding goats, the headless chicken in Mexico going to the wounded Blanchett on the bus, Blanchett screaming as her wound is stitched up to silence in Japan (and there, too, from a dodgy-looking needle to sterilized dental instruments), it sells the diversity of cultures across the world superbly in this manner and subtly (okay, not so subtly at times) guides your mind into joining the dots and drawing the message out. It’s perfect, even better a second time around.
December 21st, 2006:
“I’m not bad – I just did a stupid thing.”
Like Little Children, this one is just great in ways I can’t begin to start on after a first viewing. It covers so many things, so many stories, so many characters, so many places, but it’s never too much or too hard to follow. The performances are brilliant, most notably Brad Pitt and Rinko Kikuchi, even though I didn’t quite get the relevance of her story on this viewing (I get it, her dad had the gun, but it just didn’t strike me as being as important to the whole tapestry as the other threads – not that that stopped it from moving me). A movie I’ll definitely be watching again next year and I’ll write more then.