It says a lot about a film when it’s shorter than two hours but feels longer. I did enjoy a lot of the performances and the scenarios are amazing to watch. I want to give some constructive criticism here. I’m not sure, I just think that any coming-of-age story with teenagers is usually aimed at a teenage audience and therefore should be engaging to said audience. Honestly, I don’t think they’d go for this one. Then it’s actually more left to an older audience to evoke feelings of nostalgia, but the whole theme about a town slowly fading away just dragged the film down for me.
Follow The Light (2020) is directed by Yoishi Narita. Akira (Tsubasa Nakagawa) has just moved to the country and has very little interest in making friends. Eventually he meets Maki (Itsuki Nagasawa) who is alienated from everyone due to her eccentric behaviour. He meets her just after seeing an eerie green light and finds her in a crop circle that has just appeared. That might be the main plot, but the film basically is a very slow and melancholic look at a school about to close, a town where everyone is leaving and everyone that is still there is dealing with abandonment at some degree.
Melancholy in films can be tricky to portray, and yes this film does achieve the dreaded feeling of portraying a dying won, but the trick is to actually make it interesting to watch. Unfortunately, even with the chemistry between Maki and Akira, it’s really hard to stay engaged in this one. Yes, cinematographically the vistas are beautiful but that can only carry the film so far. To its credit, the film conveys abandonment really well, perhaps even too much.
Maybe recommended for an audience that doesn’t mind its slow, contemplative pace but I do have some reservations. Despite some good performances by both the main and supporting cast, the overall theme of a town facing abandonment by its residents is a rather dreary one. There are little moments of joy and drama, but ultimately it’s a slow and melancholic goodbye that drags on very early. This might work for the right appreciative audience if there’s enough content that might keep you watching. Don’t expect a satisfying conclusion either.
That will do for now.