Monday, August 3, 2015

Fantasia 2015 Film Review - Tag

The roots of Tag lies in a 2001 novel from Yusuke Yamada where people with the same last name are hunted and killed. Similar stories using the concept that depict a chase and kill scenario or tagging have appeared since the 2001 Yamada book. Sion Sono gives his take on the subject using three main female characters that are all chased by supernatural forces throughout the film trying to survive as those around them are gruesomely cut down.

Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) is on the second of two busloads of schoolgirls headed down a quiet road. Her classmates are taunting her calling her foreigner for being mixed and spending too much time doing poetry. Mitsuko bends down to the floor of the bus to retrieve her fallen pen as a mysterious wind slices through the air at seat height cutting the both buses and occupants in two at the midriff leaving Mitsuko as the only survivor.  Our heroine runs chased down the road, though a stream and back to her school by the wind to find her friends Aki (Yuki Sakai) Jun (Maryjun Takashahi) and Mutsuko (Sayaja Isoyama) who knew nothing of the event leading Mitsuko to doubt if it even occurred. Shortly after they're seemingly friendly homeroom teachers point heavy artillery at the students and begin firing. Mitsuko and her friends run from the class room and school where Mitsuko ends up alone where she is spotted by a police officer that begins to call her a different name Keiko.

Sion Sono presents another production that is visually stunning and full of frantic camera work. A good number of shots are from the perspective of the presence chasing the heroine. Therefore the camera follows Mitsuko as she is looking back while running away or when portraying the razor sharp wind it sweeps up and around then swoops down suddenly which is particular effective in one instant as Mitsuko dives for cover after warning some citizens about the wind but they are not so lucky suffering the sliced through the torso fate. Sono's story evokes thoughts of the Matrix or the Wizard of Oz as the audience wonders who is controlling the action that we are seeing on screen?

Renia Triendl is memorable as Mitsuko. We meet her when things first appear normal then she departs during the middle portion of the film to return in the final segments of the proceedings to make a major choice to bring the cycle of being hunted to an end. Yuki Sakai appears in different segments as Mitsuko's loyal friend Aki who speaks outside of the boundaries of their environment and also willing to make a sacrifice for the benefit of her friend. Mariko Shinoda (Keiko) and Erina Mano (Izumi) who play the heroine when Triendl is not on screen both are solid but the audience are not as invested in them as they are with Triendl's Mitsuko as she is the original.

Sion Sono continues his hectic 2015 six film slate with another winning production. His adaptation of the chase scenario is original and compelling. His direction imaginative supporting his strong ensemble cast.  Tag is a film that I can definitely recommend.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

Tag | Sion Sono | Japan | 2015 | 85 Minutes.

Tags: Schoolgirl, Bride, Runner, Supernatural Force, Game, Inventor, Homeroom.

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