First there was light. Then the stars, the planets, the seas and forests and beasts... Skip forward a bit and we come to Momoko Hidaka, 75 years old, a widow alone in her humble Tokyo home littered with memories. Her children rarely visit or call, and she has few friends. She’s not totally solitary, however – her inner thoughts have begun to manifest before her, as a trio of mischievous, musical idiots only she can see. They taunt and babble in the dialect of her faraway hometown. Is this dementia? One more question for her next visit to the doctor. Whatever their medical classification, the three clowns now constantly crowding her are urging Momoko, who’s given to reminiscing about her life gone by, to find something more in the time she has ahead...
Following MORI, THE ARTIST'S HABITAT, director Shuichi Okita (THE MOHICAN COMES HOME) returns to the theme of life’s last lap, in a wry, thoughtful, and imaginative manner. A tender, tragicomic examination of aging and isolation, and finding purpose in one’s final days, ORA, ORA BE GOIN’ ALONE is also a lifelong fish-out-of-water tale, exploring the small-towner’s sense of displacement in the big city, as well as a trip back through recent Japanese history – with a splash of playful surrealism for good measure. Yu Aoi (a star since her debut in 2001’s ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU, also at Fantasia this year) is a joy as Momoko’s younger self, but the brightest light here is Yuko Tanaka, last seen at the festival in 2019’s THE ISLAND OF CATS, whose deft and charismatic turn as Momoko today is the essential centrepiece of the film. – Rupert Bottenberg
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