Review: Flower and Sword / Japanese Film Festival / Bill

Flower And Sword, from director Tetsuo Shinohara, is a film about political unrest in 16th century Japan, heavily diluted with loads of highly animated, almost forced comedy.

Spanning across many decades, it follows the story of monk Senko Ikenobo, who spends his days making flower arrangements as a way of praying for peace.

 Senko starts out as a novice monk, with a talent for his art and a specific fondness of pine branches. He’s sent by the head monk to create an arrangement for Nobanaga Oda – the current ruler, with a murderous temper and a sizeable ego. After Nobanaga approves the display, Senko’s talent is noted by the head monk, and 12 years later he inherits the role of head monk.

 The plot is long and often entirely uninteresting, but the basic idea is that after many friends are taken and killed by the new, ruthless leader Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Senko and his school of monks engage in a non-violent campaign to try and show Hideyoshi that violence isn’t the only way. At least that’s what I managed to gather while watching the film.

 It’s 2 hour runtime feels like it goes on forever, and just when you think it has to be finishing up by now, you find yourself facing another half an hour of it – it’s never a good sign for a film when you’re wishing it would just stop already.

 Although it’s not a bad film, it certainly has trouble figuring out what it’s trying to be, it can fluctuate between high comedy and political drama in the space of about 30 seconds, which is jarring to say the least.

But if you can manage to keep up with it’s mess of subplots and ideas, then you’ll probably find it entirely enjoyable, but not a whole lot more.

Bill (13)

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