Hiroshima is no longer just a place to us. The memory of tragic events still haunt the word like an infection. When we meet Suzu and her family and learn they live in Hiroshima, we know what’s coming at some point. She is married off to a man she hardly knows and moves to the neighbouring town – even through this we sigh with relief as she’s no longer in THAT place. Her family remain there though, while we get lost in the trials and tribulations of her wartime life. We see her struggle and celebrate her successes alongside her but always – always – the calendar marches forward and in the back of your mind the knowledge of Hiroshima lingers whispering the oncoming darkness.
I was lost for most of the first act. It is unfocused in the way that our own lives are. We jump around with flashbacks and flashforwards, never quite sure where we are. The film is structured against diary entries so each scene features a date and depending on your knowledge of history you’ll recognise certain dates approaching. Soon though, these shards of characters begin to ring out, like musical notes creating a harmony. Those moments that at first seemed abstract or needless are vital, overflowing with resonance as we move through the story and learn how those little things can mean the whole world.
This is not a war film, it’s about people surviving during the war, getting on with things, falling in love. I think we forget that right now we’re living through a war. Sure, most of us are comfortable but elsewhere in the world the same can’t be said. Different themes jangle and flicker, like they do in our own lives: sadness, happiness, indifference, on and on it goes. But then we realise we know these people, we love them. We relate to them and want them to succeed, even though we know tragedy is approaching.
I tried to see this film again but it had already finished its run and will be released in October 2017 on DVD and Blu Ray. I have already preordered it. I was left emotionally destroyed by In This Corner Of The World and sat like jettisoned wreckage as the lights went up. I believe it to be the most beautiful and important film I’ve seen this year. I urge you to seek it out where you can.