Vital
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Vital

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Cast: Shinya Tsukamoto, Tadanobu Asano, Nami Tsukamoto, Kiki

     
 
Japanese body horror auteur Shinya Tsukamoto, still best known in the U.S. for Tetsuo, teams with hipster icon Tadanobu Asano for the psychological drama Vital. Asano plays Hiroshi Takagi, who wakes from a coma, his memory seriously impaired, and decides, to the relief of his parents (Kazuyoshi Kushida and Lily), to go back to medical school. His memory

Overview

Japanese body horror auteur Shinya Tsukamoto, still best known in the U.S. for Tetsuo, teams with hipster icon Tadanobu Asano for the psychological drama Vital. Asano plays Hiroshi Takagi, who wakes from a coma, his memory seriously impaired, and decides, to the relief of his parents (Kazuyoshi Kushida and Lily), to go back to medical school. His memory returns slowly. Eventually, Hiroshi remembers that he had a girlfriend, Ryôko (Nami Tsukamoto) who was with him when he wrecked his car. She was killed in the crash. As he and his classmates begin to work on human cadavers, Hiroshi catches the attention of another top student, a driven and manipulative young woman named Ikumi (Kiki). The two become involved in a twisted relationship of sorts, but Hiroshi is more and more focused on his work. He comes to believe that the corpse he's working on in the lab is Ryôko's. Distraught, he goes to visit the dead girl's parents (Jun Kunimura and Hana Kino), who offer little comfort. Meanwhile, the other students are disturbed by Hiroshi's growing obsession with his "subject." Vital was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of the 2005 Film Comment Selects.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Cult filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto abandons, at least temporarily, his monochromatic palette and his preoccupation with bizarre meldings of man and machine for the somber, ruminative drama, Vital, which could be described, reductively, as a love story between an amnesiac and a corpse. We're inside the head of Hiroshi (Tadanobu Asano) for much of the film, and early on, he spends a good deal of time silently observing, staring into the mirror, and trying to get a grip on who he is and what's happened to him. Asano excels here at conveying Hiroshi's sense of alienation. There's a strange girl stalking him who may be a murderer. Then it's down to the corpses. "Trust your own eyes," the professor says. "The truth is there for you to see." This may be an allusion to Stan Brakhage's autopsy film, The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes, which fits with Tsukamoto's relatively low-key treatment of the dead here, but it hardly offers a way into this perplexing film. If there's a surreal aspect to the film, it can be found in the oddly matter-of-fact manner in which all the characters seem to accept that Hiroshi is studying the corpse of his dead lover in his med school lab. His loving penetrations of her corpse awaken reveries, in which he imagines that he is with her again. Here, Tsukamoto increasingly uses uncharacteristic splashes of color. Examining her dead body allows him to find a way to reconnect with her and to make sense of his own fractured existence. Vital offers its share of disturbing images and gristly medical-lab sound effects, but in the end, its pursuit of closure is surprisingly hopeful.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/24/2006
UPC:
0842498030134
Original Release:
2004
Rating:
R
Source:
Palisades Tartan
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:26:00
Sales rank:
52,119

Special Features

"The Making of" Vital; Behind the Scenes: Venice Film Festival World Premiere Interview with the Director; Commentary by Author Tom Mes; Special effects featurette music video; Original theatrical trailer; English subtitles; Tartan Asia Extreme ; New Releases

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Vital
1. The Accident [5:17]
2. Familiar Subject [5:28]
3. Refresher Course [5:13]
4. First Incision [6:05]
5. Nightmares [4:27]
6. Gut Feeling [4:22]
7. Déjà vu [4:05]
8. Ménage à Trois [8:07]
9. Too Close to the Subject [3:48]
10. "Don't Go!" [4:43]
11. Her Request [7:11]
12. Memories [10:01]
13. Saying Goodbye [3:32]
14. Ceremonial Ribbon [:16]
15. Close the Door [1:48]
16. End Credits [4:50]

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