Vision: Kawase Naomi’s drama is as serene as it is hermetic; perhaps a deeper understanding of the philosophy that informs the story (which may include Shinto and Buddhism) could throw a light in the symbolism of the film. Without it, however, the interesting story, which sounds simple enough, remains hard to understand in its intended entirety. The film has a ponderous pace, which fits the story and the characters’ behaviours. Performances are quiet, subtle: Nagase Masatoshi is fine as the gruff hermit, as is Juliette Binoche as the outsider that drives the search and the story. The film looks beautiful, with cinematographer Dodo Arata using all tools in his bag of tricks to give the wonderful-looking locations an aura of magic and mystery.