chapter  22
12 Pages

Therapy for Him and Her: Kitano Takeshi’s Hana-Bi (1997)


Hana-Bi stands out for its use of Japanese contextual elements. Compared to Kitano ‘Beat’ Takeshi’s earlier films, it organizes a series of everyday moments into a tragi-romantic patchwork. Its deft use of ordinary practices stimulates extraordinary aesthetic effects. The most casual of situations – playing catch, a guessing game, family snapshots – are rendered portentous and fateful because they are placed within sequences of distracted reverie. Occasionally, viewers must work to sort out the temporal and causal relations between scenes, but this is not necessarily disorienting. ‘Everydayness’ is a vehicle to transport characters and plot back and forth, here and there. In Hana-Bi, the more innocuous the situation, the likelier it will be used as a portal to memory, premonition, or daydreams. Quotidian details are given a special status and function and they are prone to flights of abstraction. Mundane chores of exposition are usually left to minor characters.