Despite an intriguing premise and sound artistic direction, Japanese dramatic thriller His Lost Name is a dull, meandering film that doesn’t say much.
His Lost Name begins with a university graduate, Hikaru Ashizara (Yūya Yagira), lying unconscious on a river bank near a small Japanese town. A middle-aged man named Tetsuro (Kaoru Kobayashi) rescues him and, although Tetsuro has next to no information about the stranger, he lets the young man recover at his house and offers him a job at his wood-crafting shop.
Ashizara discloses no detail about himself except a fake name: Shinichi, which also happens to be the name of Tetsuro’s son, who died years ago in a tragic car accident. As Tetsuro’s affection towards the young man grows, Ashizara also tries to erase his past identity by emulating his rescuer's son’s appearance.
Things start to change when Ashizara realises he cannot hide forever when the people in the neighbourhood start to question his mysterious background. The problem persists even after Tetsuro declares that nothing will change between them even if Ashizara’s past comes to light.
The movie certainly re-evaluates the meaning of family as the duo’s father-son relationship isn’t based on blood, but on their mutual reliance on each other. Tetsuro needs a substitute son as closure for the one he lost, while Ashizara longs for a father figure who understands him.
However, this is definitely not a new idea. One would expect the hackneyed topic to be handled with more creativity, but the film doesn’t surprise you with anything bold. It doesn't even have an obvious climax.
The movie leaves the audience with many questions about the spotty plot, but makes little effort in explaining them. The dialogue does not help either, as it is quite simplistic and even shallow at times. It seems the director is trying to force the audience to feel something for the undeveloped characters, but ends up failing miserably.
Last but not least, the movie is set at a fairly slow pace with a cool, melancholy colour palette. It helped set the tone for a bleak and enigmatic vibe, if only the film had a good story to tell.
Edited by Jamie Lam
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