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[CFF 2020] 'Being Natural' Review: A picturesque indictment on gentrification


[CFF 2020] ‘Being Natural’ Review: A picturesque indictment on gentrification

‘Being Natural’ is equal parts social commentary and horror.

Life is good for Taka in his small Japanese town. He has few responsibilities and gets to hang out every day playing the bongos, chilling with his turtle, and enjoying the peace of the home he’s allowed to live in rent free. The peace is disturbed when an overbearing family from Tokyo moves to town and sets their sights on his home. Part social commentary, part ghost story, and part vengeance tale, Being Natural is a beautifully shot film that tells a heartbreaking story of finding one’s place in the world.

Directed by Tadashi Nagayama, the idea of finding peace in nature is a running theme throughout this film. Taka, his cousin Mitsu, and his childhood friend Sho fish and live at peace in the comfort of their community. Taka is very quiet and allows people to walk all over him. But he seems to be fine with it as long as he can spend time with his friends and play the bongos. Taka cannot find a job and he does not seem to concerned about it.

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The problem starts when a yuppy family from Tokyo decides that they need to use to Taka’s home for their organic cafe. This entitlement and violation quickly disturbs the pastoral serenity of Taka’s life as he is subjected to new forms of cruelty.

Being Natural

Being Natural has a very strong cast. The two standout performances belong to Yota Kawase, who plays Taka and Kanji Tsuda who plays Keigo. There is a calm patience to their acting measured with outbursts of emotion. The characters of Taka and Keigo are very similar in that their lives seem to be controlled by circumstances and the whims of others, rather than exercising their own personal autonomy.

The film is humorous and explores the bonds between family and friends while also showing how people who think they are doing good are actually manipulative and hurt the causes they stand for. At times funny, at times sad, and at times horrific, Being Natural, takes on the question of what is natural and who decides what is unnatural.

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