Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, in partnership with the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, will screen Greatful Dead on April 17th as the opening night film of the festival! As an added bonus, there will be a post-screening Q&A with director Eiji Uchida.
Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, each of whom play a crucial part in the telling of Eiji Uchida’s black comedy Greatful Dead. Nami (Kumi Takiuchi) is a young girl who has been lost most of her life. This emotionally neglected child became estranged from her parents an early age when her mother ran off and her father fell deep into a nervous breakdown leaving young Nami to seemingly fend for herself. After her father dies and leaves her an inheritance, she begins to spend her time looking through a pair of binoculars into the lives of every day people she comes in contact with. Nami has a real interest in finding lonely people, whom she calls Solitarians, and she begins to keep a daily diary of their activities and movements.
One day, Nami spots an elderly gentleman named Mr Shiomi (Takashi Sasano) exiting a supermarket and decides to spy on him. The gentlemen offers much to observe, from his interest in porn to his heated relationship with his son, Nami has found her greatest subject, but all that changes when a young bible-reading volunteer enters Mr Shiomi’s life. Destined to make a difference, this volunteer begins to break into Mr Shiomi’s shell and help him reconnect with the outside world. This displeases Nami, who wants this nuisance to leave her perfect subject alone. As Nami begins to transform from voyeurism to full-fledged stalker, her desires turn blood thirsty and her actions have dire consequences that will impact not only her, but everyone around her, including Mr Shiomi.
Greatful Dead is a very dark story blending both comedy and horror together to make one unforgettable film. Every step further into Nami’s life begins to feel like you are sitting quietly watching a time bomb tick down to zero with no way of stopping it. Kumi Takiuchi is haunting as the disturbed young Nami. Her frightening transformation from observer to stalker is mesmerizing. Takashi Sasano is wonderful as Mr. Shiomi. His progression from an angry old man to one more willing to forgive provides a glimmer of hope in a film soaked in darkness. Eiji Uchida’has created a smart, disturbing film worthy of standing next to some of the great films of Japanese cinema. A film that never allows the audience any mercy while it slowly spirals down the rabbit hole. Greatful Dead is a must see.
3 1/2 out of 5