Friday, 4 April 2014

Tomie Review (1999)

The other week, I watched Tomie (albeit, half distractedly), and these are my observations of what I did pay attention to. The narrative began very disjointedly, and it was hard to get one's head around until nearer to the end. Comparatively, Audition did a far more successful job of piecing together a confusing story, while maintaining tension. There was definitely a token character in there with her breasts out to reign everyone's attention back in, somewhere near the middle of the film. Well, it was either that or the token lesbian scene. Oh wait, there's both.

Now, I am a big fan of Junji Ito's works, particularly Tomie and Uzumaki. However, I have not read either of each series in their entirety. In Tomie's defense I found it very likely, possibly for safety, that Tomie turned out to be lesbian (or at least leaning towards being) as a character. I can't quite put my finger on whether I believe she has emotions or not, but she certainly has weaknesses in terms of her powers causing men (mostly, anyway) to overpower her in their insanity. As far as casting goes, the actress playing Tomie looked... unusual, but the eyes were absolutely perfect. When I think about the scene where Tomie is trying to force feed Tsukiko cockroaches, I felt she lacked the threatening presence/unnerving quality Tomie might have.

Some further observations I made were, the soundtrack at times was extremely quirky and synthy, and reminded me distinctly of the soundtrack of Rubin and Ed. I found the track in particular, Funhouse 2 by World Famous, a Japanese electronic project.  The psychiatrist in the film also carried a very important message. Went along these lines; if you have a past that's a little less agreeable than you'd like, it's behind you and it's only 'your annoying self' left keeping you there. Wise words. However, in the context of the film I feel that it was somewhat ruthless.

Overall Tomie was vaguely interesting, but a bit slap dash and the story did not come together as well as I thought it could have. As a film, it also lacked the eeriness, hysteria and artistic quality of a Junji Ito manga, which Uzumaki seemed to preserve to some extent. This is the kind of project I'd expect to have careful attention paid to artistic direction when translating it into film, given the manga has a very surreal, Gothic and unnerving atmosphere. Could have been done better.

Overall rating: 4/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

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