Yuki Fujita, Masato Tsujioka
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
The debut release from indie distributor Ganko Films, Phantom is a 76-minute experimental feature shot on location in Tokyo and featuring veteran Japanese actor Masato Tsujioka (Bullet Ballet, Suicide Club) and relative newcomer Yuki Fujita.
The two portray a girl and her boyfriend as they spend their night talking about their lives, their precarious conditions, and their difficulty in earning a living and finding their place in the world. If there were to be a genre for Asian Angst, then Phantom would most assuredly fit right into it.
Written and directed by French born Jonathan Soler, Phantom is very much intended as an experimental flick and very much intended to elicit a response both for its dialogue and for the images presented. Shot in Japanese with English subtitles, Phantom is far less concerned with answers than it is with simply asking questions. Phantom is an experiential film largely devoid of narrative, though I suppose one could argue that the whole idea of a night of conversation is in itself a wee bit of a structure. What makes the film different, however, is that it strays away from films like Lost in Translation or the Delpy/Hawke Before films in favor of the more abstract works such as Koyanisqaatsi and Sans Soleil.
As one might expect from an up-and-coming filmmaker, the success with which all of this is achieved is a tad hit-and-miss. At times, Phantom is so into its introspection that it isn't particularly interesting. While that may be part of the point, it's a bit jarring at times and contrasts with other moments in the film that are thought-provoking and reflective. Soler shoots the film with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a camera that allowed Soler to capture the desired dream-like style that is radiated throughout the film.
While Phantom isn't particularly concerned with "performance," per se, it takes disciplined actors to nail that tone and both Tsujioka and Fujita do so quite nicely. The two make for a steady and consistent presence that fits quite nicely within the fabric provided by the dialogue itself and the visuals that surround them all.
For more information on Phantom, be sure to visit the film's website linked to in the credits on the left.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic