Thoughts on 37 Seconds (2019), a Film By HIKARI

I’ll be upfront. Shunsuke Daitō, a Japanese actor used to be the apple of my eye. 🙂 So when I heard he was filming “37 Seconds”, I got curious and researched about it. After reading what was available online, I realised I wanted to watch it because of the story and most especially because of the actress.

You see Hikari’s debut film features first-time actor Mei Kayama who has cerebral palsy. The film “37 Seconds” gives us a rare, authentic; not to mention, beautiful view into the world of a young woman with cerebral palsy.

37 Seconds

Yuma is a young Japanese woman who suffers from cerebral palsy. Torn between her obligations towards her family and her dream to become a manga artist, she struggles to lead a self-determined life.

The Film

Mei Kayama and Misuzu Kanno in 37 Sekanzu (2019) Photo by © knockonwood //IMDB

The 2019 Japanese drama film written and directed by Hikari was screened at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. “37 Seconds” was able to bring home the Panorama Audience Award as well as the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) Art Cinema Award.

The film was also screened at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival under the Viewpoints section. This section features narratives and documentaries with bold original visions and innovative points of view. Lastly, “37 Seconds” was also shown at the 44th annual Toronto International Film Festival under the Contemporary World Cinema section.

I was starting to worry I won’t be able to see this film. Good thing, Netflix has got our back as they currently hold the distribution rights for the “37 Seconds”. After seeing a notification early this year, I clicked the option to alert me when the film is ready for streaming. And now, here are my thoughts!

The Review

A few seconds into the film, you can already see how independent and strong our protagonist is. Yuma doesn’t let her condition get in her way. She can take the train to work and back home. Yes, our Yuma works as a manga artist or a “mangaka”.

She is very talented and her view of the world is amazing. Writer, director and producer Hikari made sure we see what’s on her mind. Whenever Yuma imagines a storyline and starts drawing, the audience is given passage through the world she is creating. I was compelled at one point and wanted to know more about that alien species.

Sadly, her view of the world isn’t enough.

In the story, Yuma isn’t exactly limited by her condition. She doesn’t even deprive herself. It just so happens the people around her wanted control.

One obstacle is the so-called friend she works with or rather for. Yuma is the one with great talent but is limited because she is being used. Another obstacle is her mother. Don’t get me wrong. This obstacle is a beautiful one, the type that will strengthen you.

Being the cute and persistent Yuma, she broke free and experienced what every person should. She experienced life at every turn. She met new people, made new friends, got drunk and had fun. Through that journey, she also found herself and in the end understood, accepted and returned back home.

Yes, I’m keeping a lot of details because it’s too pure and I want you to personally see it. As mentioned, “37 Seconds” is now streaming on Netflix. With what’s going on in the world at this moment, I’m pretty sure you can spare a little time for this beautiful film.

Mei Kayama and Shunsuke Daitô in 37 Sekanzu (2019)
Photo by © knockonwood //IMDB

And in case you are wondering why “37 Seconds”, here’s a quote from the film.

It was 37 seconds. That’s how long I didn’t breathe after I was born. If I’d been born first, Yuka might have ended up like me. If I’d started breathing even one second sooner, maybe I’d be like her. I’d be free just like her. But I’m glad it was me. – Yuma

 “37 Seconds” 10/10 IMDb

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