a film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
2003 | 115 min | Color | Japanese with English Subs
Kiyoshi Kurosawa, one of Japan’s most unique auteurs, builds a fascinatingly disorienting and quietly apocalyptic tale of alienated twenty- somethings in this haunting 2003 drama Bright Future. This was Kurosawa’s first feature to be selected for the prestigious Cannes film festival and marked a departure from his previous famed J-horror masterpieces such as Pulse and Cure.
Enigmatic Mamoru (Tadanobu Asano) lives alone with his poisonous but hauntingly luminous jellyfish that stings anyone getting too close. Mamoru’s intense antisocial behavior is echoed by his co-worker and sole friend, Yuji (Jô Odagiri). They also share a dislike for their excessively solicitous boss, Fujiwara. However, and inextricably, Mamoru takes matters to the extreme, murdering both Fujiwara and his wife. With Mamoru in prison awaiting execution, Yuji is entrusted with the care of the lethal jellyfish, becoming attached to the strange creature while continuing with Mamoru’s previous efforts to acclimate the saltwater animal to thrive in freshwater. As the day for the creature’s transformation looms closer, Yuji befriends the doomed man’s father, Shin-ichiro, who bonds with Yuji and takes him under his wing. Just as Yuji’s life begins turning for the better, the jellyfish slips through his fingers into a nearby canal. There, it begins reproducing in massive numbers, menacing the entire city.
"Bright Future casts its spell by drawing out the horror of everyday existence bit by bit, and then tossing in some otherworldly weirdness that makes the hair on the back of your neck try to run for cover.” —Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“There are, after all, few filmmakers who could take a jellyfish out of a home aquarium and turn it into a metaphor worthy of Godzilla.” —Manohla Dargis, New York Times
"An enchantingly cryptic, ethereally photographed slice of somber surrealism that should definitely appeal to fans of David Lynch and Luis Buñuel" —Premiere Magazine
"It’s a haunting, spooky journey into a world that embraces trippy ambiguity" —E!
“The most spellbinding aspect of Bright Future is that the surrealism sustains its own squiddish logic, concluding with one of the most breathtaking film finales of the year.”
“Gradually establishes a sense of foreboding that is hard to shake, though it's not without its darkly humorous moments.”