Out of the Wind 風の外側 (Kaze no sotogawa) (2007) • Japan

This is Sakura Ando's feature film debut. It's written and directed by her father, Eiji Okuda. These are the facts. It's a confused film. It starts off being about a young girl, Mariko, who has a dream of becoming a diva in the world of opera. It's funny seeing Sakura Ando do that elongated mouth opera singing thing, but I digress. There has to be some conflict so a soft-spoken tough guy is introduced. He becomes Mariko's bodyguard and remains nameless for a while. This is a Japanese film. There are perverts targeting young girls in school uniforms.

The boy and girl enter into a typical movie relationship. It starts off distant and rocky but love slowly swirls. Then the focus of the film drifts to the guy who has a dream of becoming a big time Yakuza. Problem is, he's Korean, so he has to prove himself on his way up the ladder by doing all the icky jobs. One of which turns out to be killing a Korean businessman who ... drum-roll, please ... turns out to be Mariko's father. That would mean, you guessed it, Mariko is half Korean. Now the film drifts into an exploration of identity and we're given an excuse to up the ante in the love relationship between Mariko and her bodyguard. The life of Koreans and the discrimination they endure living in Japan is also explored.

It's not that a film can't grow and expand on the themes it explores but it has to be well-written and executed or it will fail. The amount of suspension of disbelief required to get from A to B to C in this film is huge. I didn't have the power to suspend my disbelief that a director would have his young daughter do a nude scene in her film debut, seems creepy, nor was I able to get through the scene where the bodyguard stumbles into the opera house and stabs Mariko's father while she watches the whole thing, albeit with a wrinkled forehead, but never stops singing.

This film is pretty awful, and it's too bad because Sakura Ando's performance is pretty good. It's a real sign of talent when you can be good in a bad film.

Director: Eiji Okuda
Starring: Sakura Ando, Takao Sasaki, Kazu Andô, Yasuhiro Arai, Megumi Araki


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