For Nobuhiro Suwa (Hiroshima, 1960), there is no other path towards cinematographic truth than the acceptance of uncertainty. It’s a maxim that takes multiple forms in the Japanese director’s work, starting with his reticence to use set scripts, preferring instead to get his actors and actresses to improvise, whether they are Béatrice Dalle (H Story, 2001), Jean-Pierre Léaud (El león duerme esta noche, 2017) or a pair of nine-year-old girls (Yuki & Nina, 2009). This methodology places every moment of Suwa’s cinema at the rim of a realist abyss, a trembling that, coupled with his conceptual ferocity, generates disturbing movies that never fail to shock the senses and mind. How else could we define the moments when the actors in H Story stop acting, finding themselves unable to perform a remake of Hiroshima mon amour (the failed project, that powerful leitmotiv of modern filmmaking)? Or describe the red-hued shots in such poetical tone with the romantic agony suffered by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Bruno Todeschini in Un couple parfait (2005)?
The clash between western and eastern cinema plays a central role in these mystery-tinged movies. So, M/other (1999) can be viewed as a fusion between the legacy of Yasujirō Ozu –with his capacity to sound out Japanese reality from domestic settings– and the spirit of John Cassavetes, with his unnerving ways of depicting emotional unrest. An intercontinental dialogue that also unfolds beneath the long shadow cast by Roberto Rossellini’s Viaggio in Italia, which is projected over the amorous revelations of Un couple parfait, or the phantasmagoric approaches used by Alfred Hitchcock, Kenji Mizoguchi and Jacques Rivette, which all come together in El león duerme esta noche. Suwa is a director wherein the old becomes new, the distant becomes close and the enigmatic becomes pure clairvoyance.