Gaichu   2001   Japan Harmful Insect
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Director:Akihiko Shiota
Studio:Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS)
Writer:Kiyono Yayoi
IMDb Rating:7.2 (384 votes)
Awards:5 wins
Duration:92 min
Akihiko Shiota  ...  (Director)
Kiyono Yayoi  ...  (Writer)
Aoi Miyazaki  ...  Sachiko Kita
Seiichi Tanabe  ...  Ogata
Tetsu Sawaki  ...  Takao
Ryo Amamiya  ...  Tokugawa
Koji Ishikawa  ...  Kyuzo
Yû Aoi  ...  Natsuko
Yûsuke Iseya  ...  Cofeeshop Guy
Ryô  ...  Toshiko Kita
Yûsaku Suzuki  ...  Hanasaka
Yuri Yoneoka  ...  Soko
Yuria Haga  ...  Rumi
Mihoko Handa  ...  Yukiko
Takayo Mimura  ...  Kazumi
Kenjirô Ishimaru  ...  Middle-Aged Man in Convenience Store
Hôka Kinoshita  ...  Truck Driver
Tokushô Kikumura  ...  Cinematographer
Comments: Aoi Miyazaki plays a thirteen year old girl whose mother attempts suicide after her father abandons the family. Her classmates gossip in the bathrooms about a supposed affair she had with her sixth grade teacher. She skips school and her only friend is killed by a gang. Her mom's new boyfriend attempts to rape her. It's seems awful to take such a cute and accomplished young actress and punish her for ninety minutes and call it a film, but it's the strength of Miyazaki's performance that makes Harmful Insect such a powerful and haunting experience. I can't say enough about how good her performance is. I've mentioned how relentlessly her character is punished throughout the film. Her alienation is palpable and yet she wanders through the film with such strength of character it's mesmerizing.

The vision the director sets out to explore: bad things happen to good people and the alienation of youth is a train wreck of self-multiplying disasters that once begun is impossible to stop. It's a shame that redemption is withheld from a character so deserving of it. If you are a fan of Aoi Miyazaki you should watch this film just to see what she was capable of at age sixteen. It's pretty powerful.

Summary: Sachiko, a 12-year-old girl in junior high school, has a complicated life. When she was still an infant, her father disappeared. Her mother, who works in a bar, is secretive and distant. Longing for an escape from her dreary existence and lacking any kind of parental guidance, Sachiko has a short-lived affair with her sixth-grade teacher, Ogata. But fearing that his indiscretion might be discovered, Ogata moves to a town far away. Although he and Sachiko continue a written correspondence, soon the absence of her only real friend and confidant leads Sachiko into a deep melancholy. When her mother attempts to commit suicide, the turbulence of Sachiko's life becomes too much to bear. After dropping out of school, she finds temporary solace in the company of others who have fallen through the cracks of middle-class society. But when she is forced back into the confines of her classroom, her long-dormant rage begins to surface and her life quickly spins out of control.

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