New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘Midnight Bus’

New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘Midnight Bus’

Midnight Bus’ hero is driver Toshikazu “Riichi” Takamiya (Taizo Harada). He belongs to three generations of a family that has trepidations about reuniting. That’s complex enough as it is, but Riichi is also dating Shiho Furue (Manami Konishi).

The bulk of Midnight Bus takes place during a winter. There are scenes when Riichi meets his ex-wife Miyuki Kaga (Yamamoto Mirai). These encounters both show director Takashita Masao’s deft hand as well as these characters’ personalities.

Family dramas and romance take up a huge amount of the Japanese cinematic landscape. But the one between Riichi and Miyuki is so complex. They check up on each other, in a way, expressing their love.

Riichi and Muyki find each other again through a platonic friendship but their adult children have mixed feelings about this. Their son Reiji is equally conciliatory but their daughter Ayana (Wakana Aoi) keeps walking away from these discussions.

Midnight Bus doesn’t just show these tense meetings. It also shows the differences between the two cities in Riichi’s route, Tokyo and Niigata. The Niigata scenes are delightful, where he gets to spend time with their children.

The movie isn’t close-up heavy but there’s something we can appreciate about how honest the camera is here. The characters look good for their ages but some of that age does show which somehow helps ground the film.

And Harada is great here. Again a lot of this movie shows Riichi from far away, or with things obstructing the audience’s view of him. But Harada expresses Riichi’s love or his anger or sorrow through subtle physicality.

Riichi finds himself in between cities and women, and he tends to seek meaning in those relationships. There’s something universal in what he looks for, what we all look for, as we see in this great film.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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