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This year’s Venice Film Festival was shocked and fascinated by “Evil Does Not Exist”, the latest film by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, which arrived in our theaters this week after winning the Grand Jury Prize on the Lido.
Immediately after the first festival screenings, various reflections and analyzes arose regarding a profoundly suspended product, rarefied and capable of giving rise to the most varied interpretations.
At the center of the film are a father and daughter who live in a village in the middle of the forest. One day, the locals learn of the plan to build a “glamping” (essentially a luxury campsite) right in the middle of the woods they pass through every day. When two officials from Tokyo come to the village to hold a meeting, it becomes clear that the project will have a negative impact on the local water supply, causing general discontent among those present. The agency’s contradictory intentions endanger both the ecological balance of the plateau and the lifestyle of the inhabitants.
“Evil does not exist” and the other films of the week
Fresh from the Oscar won with the very powerful “Drive My Car”, the Japanese director in this case proposes an apparently simpler story, remaining within a decidedly shorter duration (106 minutes compared to the approximately three hours of the previous film), whose ambitions are no less than the 2021 feature film. Opened with an evocative incipit, where the remarkable sound score goes well with the images of the trees and the sky seen from below, “Evil does not exist” has an elegant and well calibrated, confirming how Hamaguchi’s style is always precise and very orderly. From a narrative point of view the film struggles a bit to get going, but then manages to grow as the minutes pass, reaching its peak in an unexpected and certainly capable of deeply shaking the spectator.
Integration between man and nature
If with “Drive My Car” Hamaguchi took inspiration from a beautiful story by Haruki Murakami, in this case he instead writes an original script, focused on ecologism and the integration between man and nature.
The character of Takumi is very well drawn, a man who managed to overcome his traumas by leading a modest life and supporting, together with his little daughter, the cycles and order of nature. It is from her words, both to the little girl and to the adults, that the most significant messages emerge that the film wants to carry forward. Among the other most incisive dialogues, stands out a splendid conversation in the car between the two employees of the company that would like to revolutionize the area with the “gampling project” and who will end up rethinking their existence once immersed in nature and the activities that take place within it.
Despite some slightly redundant passages, it is one of the films not to be missed among all those released in theaters in recent weeks.