Radiance Screen 5 articles

Radiance

2017

Radiance Poster
  • It’s hard to imagine there would or could be anything more idiotic in the 2017 Cannes Completion than Naomi Kawase’s Radiance, a painfully sappy romantic drama set in the high-stakes world of movie audio description. She… has lost her father. He… has lost his eyesight. Together… they bond over the nuances of spoken word subtitling.

  • Kawase’s latest is certainly an improvement on [Still the Water and An] - if only slightly. While letting go of the exotic mysticism of Still the Water (or Hanezu, for that matter) and An’s easy sentimentalism, Radiance remains mired in underwritten relationships that end up less emotionally engaging than they appear, as well as pompous lines much less meaningful than they sound. (Samples: “A photographer is a hunter whose prey is time”; “I want cinema to convey a tangible sense of hope.")

  • Very little of what I heard and saw seemed profound, but then I also think the movie knew that. Coming from a filmmaker who gets more than her share of flack when she makes a less-than-quality movie, Radiance is above all—if I interpreted the fragments I gathered correctly—a movie about her desire for encounters (with people, with cinema) that are sensorial and true. As a work of art it’s hardly essential, but the objectives are noble enough. There are worse movies that one can sleep through.

  • Naomi Kawase uses the tentative connection between a partially-sighted photographer and a woman who writes film audio descriptions in this finespun exploration of beauty, impermanence and loss. Typically delicate and as gentle as a balm, the film’s well-intentioned earnestness will not endear it to the more cynical end of the audience spectrum. But fans of Kawase’s small scale personal dramas will respond to the film’s wistful tone, as well as the plaintive prettiness of the photography.

  • Naomi Kawase is getting better. At base this is a film about translation and the near-impossibility of it, an interesting topic for a filmmaker who began as an avant-garde diarist. Radiance is almost like an allegory for Kawase's own art, bristling against narrative expectations that are not her chief concern and that, frankly, are always her films' single weakest element.

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