1 - 7, 2018
ORGANISED BY THE AUSTRIAN-JAPANESE SOCIETY (ÖJG)
MARGARETENSTRASSE 78, 1050 VIENNA
Tuesday, October 3, 10:00 p.m
Japan 2016, 107 min.
Destruction Babies is director Tetsuya Mariko's already sixth feature film and his most successful. The film was awarded a directing award at Locarno, also in Japan it received awards, as Best Picture at the Professional Movie Awards and for Best Actor at the Kinema Junpo Awards.
Eighteen year old Taira disappears from his home one day and, as a known troublemaker, his whereabouts are a mystery even to his family. He surfaces incognito in a city nearby, and roams the streets with nothing on his mind but senseless violence. He beats up anyone who stands in his path, without any regard for his own health. He even attacks groups much stronger than himself, and often gets battered unconscious.
Fascinated by this unpredictable violence and the feeling of invincibility that goes along with it, young Yuya accompanies Taira on his destructive excursions, spurring him on even further while filming it all with his smartphone camera. The attacks grow more violent, the victims become weaker, the rush gets stronger, and the resulting atmosphere more gruesome. Now the media take notice of the path of destruction that the pair leave behind them.
Mute violence, with no discernible intention, without any comprehensible cause, aimed at random bystanders. The suffering you create is just as satisfying as the pain you willingly endure. The swollen face as a trophy and a warning sign of inevitable consequences. No Fight Club romanticism, but eruptions of brutality that are enormously threatening in their utter meaninglessness. No attempts to communicate by the silent protagonist help the viewer to understand these repetitive acts of brutality and fit them into a comforting framework—or even to perceive them as liberating.
With a film reminiscent in its nihilism of Shochiku productions from the early 1960s, director Mariko tries to make the unsavoury nature of the action fully palpable for the viewer. Destruction Babies is an outstanding film within current Japanese cinema, which resists comforting explanations and doesn’t hesitate to leave its audience without a clue—though certainly not without anything to discuss.