Come and Go
Director: Lim Kah Wai
Cast: Nang Tracy, Lee Kang-sheng, Manami Usamaru, Seiji Chihara, JC Chee, Mousam Gurung, Lee Kwang Soo, Lien Binh Phat, Shogen, Orson Mochizuki, Makiko Watanabe, Jakujaku Katsura
Much like Mumbai which has been described as “Maya Nagari”, or Magic City, where men and women go to realise their dreams and build fortunes, Japan’s Osaka enjoys a similar reputation. But, while most Indians travel to Mumbai, Osaka has been the home for different nationalities, like Koreans, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Malays, Burmese, Nepalese and even Indians. Malaysian-born, Osaka-based writer-director Lim Kah Wai’s uses his city in his eighth feature, Come and Go, as a melting point of different cultures. More importantly, as a place where people gather to earn their livelihood, and the movie had its world premiere at the ongoing Tokyo International Film Festival.
Come and Go is a fascinating study of how hopes are raised, dreams come true and sometimes how disappointments depress you. With pacy energy, Lim presents a mosaic of characters. But since their numbers are large and their experiences varied, he cannot examine them in-depth, which is certainly a minus point. However, the movie affords a wonderful study of inter-racial tensions. The angst and joys of migrants are narrated through gripping stories.
Come and Go begins with the police finding the remains of an old woman, and when they question her neighbour, Iida (Jakujaku Katsura), he is blissfully unaware of her life. I may have run into her on the street, but know nothing about her, he tells the cops. Not surprising. For years, he has kept loneliness away by being a handyman to whoever needed him. He could repair just about anything! And this left him with little time for anything else.
Then there is a Burmese student, Mimi (Nang Tracy), who has to do two jobs so that she can pay her college fees. But life is not easy for her, given her boss’ unwelcome attention. Nam works with Mimi, and he wants to go home in Vietnam, because his mother is unwell. But his employer will not allow him to do so, because the contract says so.
Like most big metros, Osaka is also the centre of a thriving sex industry, and in one of the early scenes, we see how a young girl, Mayumi (Manami Usamaru) , is tricked into believing that she would get a part in a regular film. But it turns out that she has been called to audition for a blue film! At another scene, we see four prostitutes from Korea entering Osaka, and they are full of desires and dreams.
There is not just sex, but romance as well. A Nepali refugee, Mousan (Mousam Gurang) is having an affair, with an older married woman, Yoshiko (Makiko Watanabe). We can see the hopelessness of this affair.
Koichi Furuya’s lens paints a vibrant and textured canvas of Osaka, a city that becomes a character by itself, and I was reminded how the Palmyra trees in renowned Indian director Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Shadow Kill are transformed into characters as well.
(Author, commentator and movie critic Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered the Tokyo International Film Festival for several years)