When Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin had Bill Murray relive a single day repeatedly until he got the day right, the concept was so original and fresh the title of their movie is used to describe any story with a similar narrative device. Most recently, ‘All You Need Is Kill’ the Japanese manga and Edge of Tomorrow put a sci-fi spin on the concept by making the time loop a stratagem employed by the antagonists. However, this latest update and many others following the original were focused on the protagonist’s retries as a vehicle for personal development which ultimately breaks the cycle.
The fresh and emotional spin director Kato Yoshio has put on the concept for his latest, 3ft Ball and Souls, is three characters are tasked with the maturity of another.
Four troubled strangers, a fireworks craftsman, a first year residency doctor, a grief stricken mother, and a high school girl–the youngest among them–meet at online suicide club and decide to get together for the singular purpose of dying together. Fate intervenes, however, as the strangers relive the moments leading up to their demise and with each repetition forcing the three older members to suspect the cause to be the young high school girl.
What the craftsman, the medical resident, and the mother must get right isn’t for their own sake (though indirectly it must be), but seemingly for the sake of the young girl. The apparent symbology at work is the responsibility of “older” generations to give the young hope. Kato is no stranger to social commentary masked as entertainment. His debut feature Plastic Crime dealt with Japan’s problem of societal shut-ins so a Groundhog Day style movie underscoring Japan’s high suicide rate doesn’t seem very far fetched. That he could be pulling it off with a simple yet touching movie making the most of its micro-budget is possibly why it took home two awards at the SKIP City International D-Cinema Festival where it also was picked up for sales and distribution by local distributor Gaga–a rare achievement for an independent movie. At Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, it was praised by Ain’t It Cool News who wrote: “The film plays like a big loving hug to life and the possibilities of how we all connect – how life must be embraced and strived for. And how giving up, you lose the possibility of getting it all right again.” Other film festival screenings include Tokyo International, Shanghai, Newport Beach International, and the Fajr International Film Festival in Iran.