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Roast in Translation

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Eric Lin/Sundance Institute

MOVIE REVIEW
blood (2022)

Essentially “Lost in Translation” with the sads and more interactions with the locals, “blood” takes place in Japan, the seeming destination of choice for lonely whites in search of je ne sais quoi. Newly widowed photographer (bien sur, what else could she possibly be?) Chloe (Carla Juri) arrives in the Land of the Rising Sun, which she previously visited with now-deceased husband, Peter (Gustaf Skarsgärd). She is apparently there taking pictures of the Japanese doing Japanese things, and she greets everyone and everything with wide-eyed wonder and amazement like Nicole Kidman shilling for AMC Theatres.

During her time off, Chloe engages the locals: Toshi (Takashi Ueno), whose show she and Peter caught while Toshi’s band was on tour in Europe, his daughter Futaba (Futaba Okazaki) and his mother (Sachiko Ohshima); Yatsuro (Issey Ogata), an elderly gentleman whose wife is battling breast cancer; and Chieko (Chieko Ito), a choreographer whose workshops Chloe begins dropping in on regularly. The film consists mostly of painfully pedestrian English for Beginners conversations during which Chloe smiles and nods while others strain to string together sentences in English. Yes, there’s the obligatory “lock ’n’ loll” joke – because do you expect a white writer-director to pass up such low-hanging fruit?

Chloe’s Japanese sojourn is interspersed with flashbacks – dream sequences, rather – of her time with Peter in Iceland, including what seems like the entire cast of characters from “The Worst Person in the World” (Norwegian but close enough). They seem super different from the Japanese, though there doesn’t seem to be a point to this besides the fact that she has no language barrier with them – which is no more or no less profound and enlightening than Chloe’s rudimentary conversations with those E.S.L. beginners. There is next to no exposition on the Japanese characters, because they apparently exist solely as curios for gaijins’ amusement and edification.

In the also Japan-set “Drive My Car,” a troupe of multinational actors overcome their language barriers by communicating physically with intention and resolve. Chloe attempts no such thing. Is she feigning her smiles and nods out of politeness while she’s bored to death on the inside? Or is she entitled and expecting the Japanese speakers to accommodate her? Who knows, and who gives a fuck really?

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