Monkey Town Productions

Locarno International Film Festival

LOCARNO, Switzerland -- The function of monotony in recovering from trauma is the subject of Japanese director Masahiro Kobayashi's well meaning but inevitably monotonous study, "Rebirth" ("Ai no yokan"). Screened in Competition here, the film may attract further festival attention but its repetitive structure makes commercial prospects dim.

Kobayashi, who also wrote the screenplay, plays a man whose daughter has been murdered in an inexplicable event at school. Makiko Watanabe plays a woman whose daughter was the killer. Spurning the woman's attempt to reach out to him, the man moves to an industrial town and takes a mindless job in a smelter.

Each day, he works in the poisonous heat, returns to a hostel where he bathes, eats in the communal dining area and retires to his barren room. The woman works in the kitchen and prepares his food each evening. They do not meet until late in the film.

Kobayashi spends 102 minutes recording the simple daily routine of each one. They do the same thing in the same way in the same place every day. It may say a lot about how people shut down when their lives are traumatized, but it's a severe test of an audience's patience.

Monkey Town Productions
Director/writer: Masahiro Kobayashi
Producer: Naoko Kobayashi
Director of photography: Koichi Nishikubo
Editor: Naoki Kaneko
Man: Masahiro Kobayashi
Woman: Makiko Watanabe
Running time -- 102 minutes
No MPAA rating