Komura (Amaury de Crayencour/Ryan Bommarito) is a man on the brink of a breakdown as his life has crashed down around him. He works in a bank and lives with his wife, Kyoko (Mathilde Auneveux/Shoshana Wilder) who is endlessly worrying about the earthquake that has struck Tokyo.
However, one day after Kyoko has had enough, she leaves Komura a letter telling him that she’s leaving him and she’s not coming back. This leaves Komura a broken and aimless man as he simply cannot deal with how his wife could have left him with so little notice and not giving any reason.
Katagiri (Arnaud Maillard/Marcelo Arroyo) works with Komura at the bank and he’s having very different problems of his own. He’s middle aged and lonely, he barely exists at work and often has imaginative dreams of a giant worm while he’s on the way to work.
Then one day he goes home and he finds a giant frog, preferring to be called Frog (Pierre Földes) who tells Katagiri that he needs his help to save Tokyo from an impending earthquake. So, despite the urgency of the situation, Katagiri finds a friendship growing which may lead to him doing something spectacular.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is the directorial debut animation of Pierre Földes, taken from the short stories by Haruki Murakami. Primarily a composer, Földes also composed the score for his first theatrical feature and thanks to Murakami’s inspiration and the rotoscoping animation, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is something truly unique.
For those unfamiliar with Murakami’s writing, it seems that he’s rather predisposed to the inner thoughts of an existential crisis. This immediately puts the audience of the shoes of Komura and Katagiri as both of their own mysteries about life are explored. However, both being so wildly different from each other and Katagiri’s being so wildly fantastical, it barely seems to matter as director Földes weaves an environment where the surreal often visits reality.
Telling stories about how men like to process times in their lives when they feel upended, perhaps both characters could be accused of expecting something without giving much in return. However, perhaps the relation to the female characters that they meet may give more of an insight into their world view. A film probably best viewed with its original voice cast, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman still gives its Western audience a universal feeling of melancholy and introspection.
Animation, Drama | France, 2022 | 15 | Cinema | 31st March 2023 (UK) | Modern Films |Dir: Pierre Földes | Amaury de Crayencour, Mathilde Auneveux, Arnaud Maillard