Review: Be Sure To Share (ちゃんと伝える)
In Short: Sion Sono’s Be Sure To Share is a touching and inspiring film about familial bonds and how important the little moments spent with loved ones are. Superbly directed and acted, Be Sure To Share is, in my opinion, Sono’s best film. It is poetic and beautiful, utilizing basic and classical cinematography in order to convey the thoughts and emotions of the characters. If Ozu were still alive today, he would have made this film.
Be Sure To Share opens by showing parts of events explored more thoroughly later in the film, establishing the basic premise: a husband/father/teacher (played by Okuda Eiji) is hospitalized with stomach cancer. His wife and son visit him every day. Shiro, the son, struggles with his father’s illness as he has always seen him as a healthy, commanding presence. As his father was his teacher and soccer coach in school, Shiro was never able to connect with him until he became hospitalized. This newfound emotional connection between father and son translates into promises such as “let’s go fishing together after I get better”. The situation is further complicated when Shiro discovers that he may also have stomach cancer, and that it could possibly be worse than his father’s. The ensuing emotional struggle causes Shiro to question what love is and how important the little moments spent with loved ones truly are. He often questions his longtime girlfriend, Yoko (played by Ito Ayumi), if she would stay with him if he had terminal cancer.
Coming off his four hour epic, Love Exposure, Sion Sono has made a drastic transition with Be Sure To Share. Whereas Love Exposure was wild, extravagant, and appealing to cult fans, Be Sure To Share is quiet, poetic, and personal. Well known in Japan as a first class poet, Sono demonstrates his ability incredibly well with this film. Repetition is emphasized to provide emotional connection to specific areas and characters, such as with a certain street corner or with the bus driver’s warm greeting every day as the wife travels to visit her husband in the hospital. Be Sure To Share includes some stunningly beautiful countryside imagery interspersed with city and hospital scenes. Music is minimal, but the same track is repeated during emotional scenes to provide the viewer with a further connective force and add emotional depth. Overall, the music is calming and fits well with the pace of the film.
Acting is impressive throughout Be Sure To Share. The lead, Akira (from the popular music group Exile), is impressive in his first real movie role. He is able to show a vast range of emotions; there are often close-ups of his face in which facial expression conveys to the viewer the conflicting thoughts going through his head. There was the potential of overacting in his role, but he contained the character well. Both the father and mother of Shiro also acted well, along with Ito Ayumi as Yoko. In my opinion, the film was the perfect length and used its screen time well. Sono is really good at this, as even the four hour long Love Exposure felt well-paced despite its length. Cinematography was also top-notch, utilizing a mostly still camera in unique angles or slow pans. The camera work was useful in identifying important places that became a theme of nostalgia throughout the film.
There is a particular scene towards the end of the film that is striking in its poetic brilliance. If you haven’t seen the film I won’t spoil it for you, but if you have you know which scene I’m talking about. It is shocking, but at the same time fitting and beautiful. By fulfilling his promise, Shiro fills the hole in his heart–a connection between him and his father. Nostalgia is a theme visited a number a times throughout Be Sure To Share–both establishing Shiro’s distance from his father by flashbacks of school times and through discussion with friends. When Shiro, Yoko, and Keita visit their old school, memories come pouring back–mostly memories of Shiro’s father, who had been their coach and mentor.
Be Sure To Share is a very reserved film, one that depicts real life. From Shiro’s morning runs to work to the quiet moments spent with his girlfriend, the film seeks to show that moments like these are not wasteful or meaningless. When Shiro realizes that he may have a worse illness than his father, these small moments become larger and even more meaningful as he struggles with acceptance, regret, and the promises that he desires to keep. Be Sure To Share is surprisingly not over dramatic as it deals with suffering, regret, and ultimate acceptance. It is a realistic film that explores emotions and succeeds at being emotionally investing because of the structure of the story. Die-hard fans of Sono’s previous works may not enjoy this film as much as those, but that does not diminish the fact that Be Sure To Share is his most accomplished film so far. Watch it.