Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Riaru onigokko/Tag (2015)

I’ve always tried not to give away endings unless it’s necessary or the ending is obvious.  I have to weigh the importance of surprise in a story.  Tag is one of those movies where I’m stuck in the middle.  On the one hand, surprise is part of the fun.  Then again, I almost didn’t stick with the movie.

It starts out with a bunch of schoolgirls on traveling by bus to a summer camp.  By the time the obligatory pillow fight starts, it looks like the director is letting you in on his fantasy.  What’s the deal?  It isn’t until both buses are cut in half (along with most of the passengers) that you realize something is up.  There’s a temptation for me to let you know that it does get better.   It’s cliché, but the movie isn’t what it looks like.

The story follows the one survivor between the two buses, Mitsuko.  She flees from the wind, as that seems to be what kills everyone.  She tries to warn people to no avail; they all die, too.  As she runs, she comes across a lot of bodies, all of them cut in half.  She finds her way to a school for girls where she meets several other girls claiming to be her friends.  This is only the beginning of her wild ride.

This is where I want to end the spoilers, as it’s better to let you find out on your own.  It’s better to go into this without the burden of knowing what’s going to happen.  (Wikipedia gives a more-detailed account of the plot if you need one.)  I will say that it’s strange.  It reminds me of the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey, except that it’s ultimately possible to follow what’s going on with Tag.

Mitsuko serves as a surrogate of sorts.  We find out information as she does.  We’re as surprised by it as she is.  She’s leading us through this bizarre tale that seems to jump between different universes, or at least between different narratives.  How much control does she have over the whole ordeal?  If she does have a destiny, can she change it?  Also, what’s the deal with down pillows?

I’m not saying that this is my new favorite movie, but I am glad that I stuck with it.  I’m not sure how much of the movie is lost on me as an American.  I’m sure at least some of it is.  Fir the first 60-70 minutes of the movie, all of the characters are female except for a pig in a suit.  Is this a way of saying men are pigs?  I’m not sure.  It wasn’t really an obstacle to enjoying the movie, though.  It does work as a thriller in that we want to see the main character survive and understand what’s going on.  I only had my doubts for about ten minutes.  If you come across this title and want something that’s way out there, this is your movie.

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