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[Fantasia '21] 'Remain in Twilight' review: Japanese dramedy resurrects reunion genre

Movie Reviews

[Fantasia ’21] ‘Remain in Twilight’ review: Japanese dramedy resurrects reunion genre

An endeavor into the realms of life and death.

Watching friends reunite after years of estrangement is not a new concept in cinema. Reunion films span genres and vary in theme and tone. How do you make a film about friends reuniting that is entirely unique from its predecessors? You tell your own story. Daigo Matsui’s Remain in Twilight or Kurenazume is based on his stage play of the same name is about six friends who reunite to perform a hilarious dance at their friend’s wedding. Inspired by Matsui’s personal friendships, this film explores how laughter is used as both a coping and defense mechanism. Remain in Twilight  is an artistic endeavor into the realms between life and death and joy and pain. 

A group of friends reunite for the first time in five years. As they drink and scream along to karaoke, it becomes very clear that despite all their fun, a grim truth lurks in the room. Their conversations and flashbacks to earlier memories illustrate their friendship which has spanned years. Despite seeing each other for the first time in five years, it is clear the friendship is not strained and it is the kind of bond where distance cannot harm their circle. The friends can pick up where they left off regardless of any changes in their lives. 

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Matsui’s screenwriting and direction are remarkable. The film uses the techniques and stylings of its source material. Lighting and simple settings create the illusion of a play which adds to the tone of the film. Remain in Twilight is described as a “metaphysical dramedy” and the use of light and dark combined with vivid colors mingle to create an otherworldly experience. 

[Fantasia '21] 'Remain in Twilight' review: Japanese dramedy resurrects reunion genre

In addition to the writing and directing, Remain in Twilight features some truly exceptional performances. Ryo Narita’s performance as Yoshio is wonderful. Narita delivers his performance with innocence and sensitivity. Narita is accompanied by a great cast with powerful chemistry. Kenta Hamano, Ryuya Wakaba, Yusaka Mizushima, Kengo Kora, and Kisetsu Fujiwara play the group of friends who love acting, performing, and telling jokes. They are a happy group who look for laughter in all situations. 

Remain in Twilight is funny and touching and filled with music. The lightness of the film adds to the some of the sillier aspects, but never overshadows the heart of the story. Slightly Shakespearean and a little absurdist, Remain in Twilight is brilliant in its delivery.  Remain in Twilight will be screening at the Fantasia Film Festival.

The Fantasia Film Festival takes place in person and online from August 5 – August 25

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