The pictures of Vision are intoxicatingly beautiful, the sound is sensational and Juliette Binoche is breathtaking – we reveal in our review why this fantasy love drama is probably not suitable for everyone.
The Plot Summary
The medicinal plant Vision only blooms once every 997 years. And only in a remote forest in the wider area of the city of Nara, one of the oldest settlements in Japan. It’s no wonder that there are so many myths surrounding this rare flower. Fascinated by the story, travel journalist Jeanne (Juliette Binoche) sets off halfway around the world to this area. In the almost deserted wilderness, she and her young translator Hana (Minami) meet Tomo (Masatoshi Nagase), who has been living there for years as a kind of forester and gamekeeper. At first he reluctantly allows the two women to stay in his surprisingly large hut. They start looking for the plant and the French woman quickly gets closer to the silent man. Through him she also meets the blind, old hermit Aki (Mari Natsuki), who seems to know a lot more about this forest and its secrets…
Vision explanation of the ending
Naomi Kawase, born in 1969 and raised in Nara Prefecture, is currently the most internationally known female director from the Far East. “Vision” is the artist’s 20th feature film, whose trademark is her poetic narrative style, dressed in beautiful, naturalistic images. In particular, “Always the Sea” from 2014 and “Cherry Blossoms and Red Beans,” which was released a year later, were equally well received by critics and the local arthouse audience. Visually, Kawase’s new work is in no way inferior to these two highlights. The rich, earthy colors as well as the masterful play of light and shadow between the huge trees, the dense undergrowth populated by all kinds of creatures or on an idyllic lake once again make for a very attractive film. The breathtaking recordings of flora and fauna are sonically illustrated by the excellent, award-worthy sound editing by the two Frenchmen Boris Chapelle (“A moment of love”) and Roman Dymny (“Welcome to the Sh’tis”). In addition, the love and sex scenes between Jeanne and Tomo, who can hardly communicate verbally but are immediately on the same wavelength, are absolutely tasteful and highly erotic.
Jeanne (Juliette Binoche) and Tomo (Masatoshi Nagase) share a common, vague longing
The story begins with a narrative pace and pace that is astonishing for Kawase’s standards. However, that’s all over when Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (“Like Mother like daughter”) very emotionally played Jeanne, after initial amazement, doubts and resistance, gives in to the magic of the forest, her lover and the obscure prophecies of old Aki. The search for a plant called Vision (which is also the original title of the film), something tangible, soon turns into a philosophical search for meaning. From this moment on, the still stringent and comprehensible plot tips more and more into the surreal. On the screen, time seems to stand still at times. At least it no longer follows a linear progression. The viewer must be able and willing to get involved with this. Otherwise it is quickly lost in the waterfall-like torrent of flashbacks, flashforwards, digressions and interludes that are difficult to dissect because they are never coherently explained in the film. Animals die, come back to life; mysterious figures appear before disappearing again just as quickly. There are also pathos-laden snippets of conversation, extreme close-ups, textual metaphors and visual symbolism in an almost meditative rush.
All of this wants and should be interpreted by the audience. The last half hour in particular should be a real feast for film fans with a strong preference for esotericism. For everyone else, going to the cinema can only be frustrating or even annoying. Even if at least Jeanne seems to be happy, content, inspired and at peace in the end…
The images in “Vision” are breathtakingly beautiful.
Conclusion: Esoteric fans can interpret to their heart’s content and indulge in beautiful images. Anyone who is a bit more down-to-earth should stay away from this mix of drama, romance and fantasy, which is overflowing with symbolism, despite Juliette Binoche once again acting ravishingly.
“Vision” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from February 14th.