“Tales of chance and other fantasies”: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s intimate chronicles

9:25 p.m., April 5, 2022

He, usually so modest, could not help holding up his trophy as a sign of victory, with a bright smile. Last Sunday in Los Angeles, Ryusuke Hamaguchi won the Oscar for best international film for Drive My Car
(which has just been released on DVD and Blu‑Ray), after the feature film won the screenplay prize at the Cannes Film Festival, a Bafta and a Golden Globe. « Omedeto gozaimasu [“félicitations”] to all my team, launched the 43-year-old Japanese filmmaker. I sincerely believe that all of this is due to luck, when I look at the list of prestigious competitors cited alongside me. I did not expect it, I have a little trouble extracting myself from this state of amazement in which I have been immersed for a few months. »

Requested before the ceremony, he showed the same modesty: “The success of Parasite [2019], by Bong Joon-ho, contributed to a better visibility of Asian directors. Drive My Car talks about resilience after trauma, the topic resonates with quite a few people today after more than two years of the pandemic. »

Hong Sang-soo and Woody Allen

Coincidence of the calendar, his latest achievement, Tales of chance and other fantasiesgrand jury prize in 2021 in Berlin, hits theaters in stride. “The past year has been exceptional, he said. However, I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress! » However, Ryusuke Hamaguchi has built a perfectly coherent filmography, revisiting the same themes: amorous passion, adultery, desire, friendship and mourning. He meticulously examines our inner torments to dissect contradictory feelings, including regrets, frustrations, doubts.

In Tales of chance and other fantasies, he declines three plots, as many magnificent portraits of women sketched with remarkable acuity and sensitivity. Miraculously inserting itself between Hong Sang‑soo and Woody Allen while confirming its own identity, seemingly theoretical but which touches the heart without warning, the anthology aligns moments of grace by adding an erotic dimension to its chronicle of respondent. We are struck by the accuracy and the directness of the dialogues, the complexity of the characters, the magic of certain situations. Like that of the third segment, the most beautiful, which relates the reunion of two ex-classmates who do not recognize each other. Each thinks she sees in the other the person she missed so much and, even if this is not the case, decides to support a complete stranger or almost…

From long to short

After the 2 hours ofAsako I & II (2018), the 3 hours of Drive My Car (2021) and the more than 5 hours of Senses (2015), Ryusuke Hamaguchi this time compiles three 40-minute medium-length films. “It’s an easier format to shoot in terms of budget, staff and energy, he points out. It allows more freedom, lightness and experimentation. » He asserts a diffuse romanticism and a “feeling that shines through in the writing”. He projects himself into his heroines and their emotions during sequence shots which also reflect his taste for literature. “Holding a book in your hands is very sensual; I love Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Natsume Soseki, but I refer more to the cinema”, specifies the director, disciple of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and influenced by Éric Rohmer (and his Tales of the four seasons).

But his influences are multiple and surprising. “For example, I never tire of the trilogy Back to the future, by Robert Zemeckis. The device of repetition, of constantly returning to an event to modify it and thus observe the consequences, fascinates me. » We imagine an improbable mash-up that would give “Drive My DeLorean”. He bursts out laughing: ” Absolutely ! »

Tales of chance and other fantasies ***

By Ryusuke Hamaguchi, with Kotone Furukawa, Fusako Urabe. 2:01. Out Wednesday.

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“Tales of chance and other fantasies”: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s intimate chronicles