Director: Takahisa Zeze
Screenplay: Yuki Sato
Cast: Moeki Tsuruoka, Tomoharu Hasegawa, Shugo Oshinari, Nahana,
Producers: Daisuke Asakura, Kazunao Sakaguchi
Print Source: Free Stone Productions
Sometimes, monsters come into our lives, tear them apart, and God does nothing. But where did the monster come from, and why? And how far down the rabbit hole can we go in search of vengeance before we lose everything we have left? In his mammoth four-and-a-half-hour meditation HEAVEN’S STORY, director Takahisa Zeze twists within these classic “revenge movie” questions before turning them inside-out, creating a shattering cosmic parable of retribution, fate, and choice.
Ten years ago, disturbed young man Mitsuo Aikawa raped and murdered Tomoki’s wife, along with his infant daughter. When the grieving Tomoki took to the airwaves vowing revenge, he became a hero to young Sato, whose own family had been brutally murdered. Yet as the years slip away and the seasons change, life moves on. Tomoki finds love again and builds a new family, while Aikawa begins his rehabilitation as the devoted live-in companion to Kyoko, a gifted dollmaker living with early-onset Alzheimer’s. But when the teenaged Sato enters Tomoki’s life and begins reciting back at him his former gospel of holy retribution, Tomoki finds himself torn between an idyllic present and a ruined past. As events spin out of control, the penitent, the unavenged, and the collateral damage come together on a collision course towards mutually assured destruction, hunting each other in a post-collapse urban jungle where seeking justice is a crime.
HEAVEN'S STORY was a five-year project for director Zeze. Known as “The King of Pink,” he was considered the most daring of the pinku eiga (Japanese softcore) filmmakers, and then he graduated to mainstream hits like PANDEMIC and MOONCHILD. Combining a breathless, handheld documentarian’s lens with lush vistas of ruined tower blocks overgrown with forest, his ragged vision brings to mind a bootleg Terrence Malick as his unflinching focus on his ensemble and their environment reveals frozen moments of lyricism that are as devastating as staring into the sun. In Zeze’s hands, HEAVEN'S STORY is an existential epic that asks, “What do we really owe the dead?” In the end, what’s past is just another spill of cherry blossoms in the wind, and we’re all on the same bus, heading for oblivion.