Just a few words about this superb short film, written and directed by Shunji Jai.  The running time of just 68 minutes and the extremely tight editing make that their is never a boring moment, just one visually and emotionally stunning scene after another. 

The story is about three mental patients (two men and one woman) going on a trip to watch the end of the world.  They aren't allowed out of the institution, so they walk on top of the concrete wall which somehow never ends, going all the way through the city, ending as a lighthouse pier extending into the sea.

The scenes in the asylum only take up twenty minutes, the rest of the film focuses on the trip.  Apparently some asylum scenes are cut from the DVD release (they are on the VCD) but from what I've read they aren't that important.

Picnic  by Shunji Jai

Review of the film and DVD by Jeroen

There are so many beautiful scenes in this film.  Like the one where coco (played by pop singer Chara, who was so brilliant in Iwai's SWALLOWTAIL and contributed a beautiful song to the soundtrack of his FRIED DRAGON FISH) is running on top of the wall in her all-black feathered outfit with a beaten-up black umbrella.  The hand-held camera following her closely, with the beautiful minimalist music from Remedios (another Iwai regular) playing on the soundtrack.  A deep blue sky, a river and an industrial landscape in the background.  This scene just screams freedom, and it chokes me up every time it's so beautiful.

The use of sound in the film is amazing.  The white bed sheets hanging to dry on top of the asylum, moving in the wind almost drown out the dialog.  A patient in the asylum speaking about a drawing he made sounds distorted like he's talking through a telephone.  Or when a character is 'loosing it', the soundtrack intermittently drops out, and there are weird pops and clicks like the nasty sound when you plug in interconnects and forgot to switch off your speakers.

The ending on the lighthouse pier is one of the most sudden endings I've ever seen.  It's very moving, and the final shot of the film will be burned into your memory for ever.

DVD Details 

(click to purchase)

Region 2 ntsc, oar 1.66:1, 16:9 enhanced, film-sourced, pcm stereo, optional English subtitles.  The grainy, high-contrast look of the film is identical to Iwai's earlier SWALLOWTAIL and UNDO.  They almost look like dogme films.  The DVD translates this perfectly, with only one problem: black level.  No problem in medium and high apl scenes, but the darker scenes look muddy.  Fortunately there are very few dark scenes, and shadow detail is still decent most of the time.  There's a tiny bit of edge enhancement, not noticeable from normal viewing distance.  Colors are great (the asylum scenes are shot through a blue/green filter).

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