After last year’s astonishing COLD FISH, Sion Sono with a disaster movie of a different sort. Shot and produced quickly, using the backdrop of last Spring’s Tsunami as both an explicit and metaphorical throughline of this tale of abuse, young love and the challenges of moving on after one has lost everything.

Based on a Manga, the film ties together the lives of two adolescent school mates – a young boy who runs his family business in the absence of his parents, and a young girl of some privilege that makes it her goal to help him out.

Some of what made Sono’s previous work so great is on display here – there’s some impeccable compositions, and the the actors are certainly performing with the same heightened, theatrical vigour that the director was eliciting. Unfortunately, the whole thing doesn’t hold together very well. The Tsunami sequences seem arbitrary, the central story itself lacks any subtlety (bordering on the fatuous), and the more gruesome or anxious moments aren’t accomplished with nearly the level of execution required.

Despite the film’s deliberate pace, it all feels strangely rushed, as if the glomming together of the various themes prevents the narrative from cohering. Broadly comic secondary characters are often a mere nuisance, and the conclusion does little to help rectify the fragmentation wrought through the piece.

It’s clear that Sono is a tremendously skilled filmmaker, but HIMIZU feels like a minor work at best, annoying pedestrian at worst. I look forward to future films that rectify the many issues embodied by this frustrating film.