If you are looking for something outrageously different, you need look no further than this mind-boggling slice of surreal Japanese comedy.
Directed by Masashi Yamamoto
★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Masashi Yamamoto’s delightfully deranged horror-adjacent surrealist comedy Wonderful Paradise (Japan, 2020) is weird, wacky, and, as the film’s title proclaims, wonderful. It takes absurdist humor to a new level in its tale of the last two days and one night of the fractured Sasaya family moving out of its mansion-like home on the outskirts of Tokyo.
Father Shuji (Seikô Itô)has blown through his inheritance with bad investments and other unwise decisions, and daughter Akane (Mayu Ozawa) is resentful of their having to leave the house where she and her socially awkward brother Yuta (Soran Tamoto)grew up. Akane posts on Twitter about a final party at the home where everyone is invited. The children’s estranged mother Akiko (Kaho Minami, who left the family for another man, takes advantage of the invitation, as do a gay couple who want to celebrate their marriage there, other assorted guests, opportunistic food and beverage vendors, and many others, including the two moving men who do practically everything except help the Sasayas move. Meanwhile, ghosts roam the property, corpses refuse to stay dead, and a monster with a cool creature design that has to be seen to be believed runs amok, among other supernatural goings-on.
Yamamoto directs with a frenetic verve turned up to maximum with Wonderful Paradise, crafting a colorful, bizarre, vibrant, fast-paced slice of oddball cinema. Viewers who give into the film’s bonkers energy will have a blood-soaked blast.
Review by Joseph Perry
Wonderful Paradise screens as part of Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film, which runs as an in-person event in New York City and also as an online hybrid event, from August 20–September 2, 2021. For more information, visit here.