Original release: July 5th, look 2009
Running time: 108 minutes
Country of origin: Japan
Original language: Japanese
Writer and director: Sion Sono
Cast: Akira, discount cialis Eiji Okuda, Ayumi Ito, Keiko Takahashi
Those who know the films of Sion Sono to some degree will probably be tempted to identify Be Sure To Share as an odd-one-out. Indeed, Sono dedicated this film to his father and the father-son relationship in the center of the plot deals with very personal issues of mortality and the need to reconnect before it’s too late. While this family drama has its quirky Sono-esque moments and symbolism, it largely keeps it straightforward without limbs or penises being severed, or schoolgirls jumping in front of moving trains.
When Shiro (Ryohei Kurosawa) learns his father (Eiji Okuda) has cancer, we get to know not only their relationship during this crisis, but also their history through a series of flashbacks. A strict and formal relationship reveals itself where the father is also his son’s teacher and soccer coach. Facing the prospect of death and having to say their final goodbyes, teacher and student must become father and son and learn to share how they feel about each other.
These difficulties seem more than possible to overcome, but the plot thickens when it turns out Shiro has the same type of cancer as his father – at an even more advanced stage. He keeps his illness a secret and becomes determined to outlive his father so he can die in peace thinking that Shiro will live a long and happy life.
Cicada and its empty shell are recurring symbols throughout the film, perhaps as an optimistic view on mortality being compared to the process of molting where new life is born and the old shell is left behind. The story of Tithonus in Greek mythology would also imply similar meaning, where cicada represents immortality.
Be Sure To Share also has the strangest fishing trip ever to grace a screen, with fishing being another recurring theme for connecting and sharing – but maybe there is a point when it really is too late. Spending quality time with a corpse reminds us that this is a Sion Sono film, but it’s hard to figure out what that scene is trying to accomplish.
The film is clearly a personal piece, but it ultimately struggles to really connect with the audience. One thematic flaw is that we never really see Shiro overcoming personal and emotional obstacles to bond with his father. Although the flashbacks seem to want to establish a relationship arc, father and son are quite friendly from the start and an intended catharsis never quite materialises. The result is a film that’s more often dull than it’s engaging, despite the filmmaker’s intentions being as clear as they can be.
Fans of Sono should probably see it nevertheless as it’s quite likely to contain a few autobiographical elements and the use of symbolism makes a few intriguing scenes to give us some food for thought.
Arpad is a Film Studies graduate and passionate photographer (he picked up the camera and started taking stills just as he began his studies of moving pictures). He admires directors that can tell a story first of all in images. More or less inevitably, Brian De Palma has become Aprad’s favourite filmmaker.
Then there’s Arpad’s interest in anime. He was just a boy when he saw Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on an old VHS and was hypnotised by the story of friendship, devotion and sacrifice. He still marvels at the uncompromising and courageous storytelling in Japanese anime, and wonders about the western audience with its ever growing appetite for “Japanemation”.