Hotaru (2000)

Run Time - 165 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |  
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Following up on her Camera d'Or-winning feature-film debut Suzaku and her understated documentary Somaudo Monogatari, Naomi Kawase spins this lyrical work about two troubled souls plagued by demons of their past. The film opens with Ayako (Yuko Nakamura) storming out of her tumble-down house after a loud row with her boyfriend -- only to walk into the pathway of an oncoming car. One of the first people to come to her aid is a moody potter named Daiji (Toshiya Nagasawa), who thinks that she intended to commit suicide. Though not the case, Ayako -- who works as a stripper -- is depressed and emotionally scarred following the suicide of her mother as a child. Daiji, who has a few issues of his own, invites her to a mountain festival for which he fashioned hundreds of ceramic containers for an outdoor votive candle display. Unfortunately, Ayako's club is raided and she is forced to spend the day in jail. Thinking that she killed herself, Daiji searches desperately for her. Later, love tentatively blooms.