“Kawase’s work demonstrates an interest in the metaphysical, whether it involves speculation on the afterlife or the meaning of life here and now. She is the rare director who portrays disability, illness or old age as normal aspects of existence, not unique tragedies. Her work can also be sentimental to a fault.” – Barbara Scharres (RogerEbert.com)
“At the heart of the film’s somewhat heavy-handedly relayed message is a plea for empathy, the capacity and readiness to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. Live their experience, understand their struggles. As one character puts it, the reason she appreciates cinema is that it connects her to the lives of other people and allows her to interpret the lives of those people, which in turn helps her live.” – Zhuo-Ning Su (Awards Daily)
“A gentle-hearted, quintessentially new-age but fatally cloying new outing from Japan’s premier cinematic naturalist Naomi Kawase… Lush landscapes and non-human life forms are pictured throughout “Radiance,” but contribute more aesthetic embellishment than any complex, cosmic role in the drama.” – Guy Lodge (Variety)
I was confident that Naomi Kawase could claw her way out of her rather poor run of form and truly be a contender again since her deeply moving, prize-winning The Mourning Forest in Cannes 2007. The reviews from this year’s festival, while not slating Radiance, have not quite met the promise. I’m going to call this the darkest horse in the pack, the sentimentality of the picture has to win over the jury though. A big ask. A super outside bet could be Ayame Misaki for Best Actress.