In his follow-up to Casting Blossoms to the Sky, Nobuhiko Obayashi continues to explore themes of lost love, memory, war and art. At 2:46 PM on March 11, 2013 in Ashibetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture, Mitsuo Suzuki (Toru Shinagawa) takes his last breath at the ripe age of 92. As the patriarch’s far-flung family gathers to make preparations for his passing, a mysterious and unknown woman (Takako Tokiwa) appears among them. Together, they begin to unravel the secret history of Mitsuo’s long life, including shocking tales of war in Sakhalin (an island in the Japanese archipelago that is now a part of Russia). Ruthlessly fragmenting scenes and setting a furious pace with one experimental technique following another, Obayashi’s breathless film breaks down the barriers between past and present, reality and illusion, and even self and other, all in order to create an emotionally profound experience of loss and hope.
“Seven Weeks pulses with more hot-blooded vitality and audacity than most films by [Obayashi’s] younger compatriots.” —The Asahi Shimbun