Quick Review: Undo (Iwai Shunji, 1994)

Rating: ★★½

In short: Giving off a low budget, film school feel, Undo is a dark, strange, and unique short film.  While containing some quite beautiful shots, Undo is mostly unpleasant to watch and the dialogue is a bit awkward.  For Iwai fans, Undo is a nice glimpse into his experimental side, but is far from his best film.

Undo is about a young couple, Yukio (Toyokawa Etsushi) and Moemi (Yamaguchi Tomoko) living in a small apartment (which just doesn’t seem normal).  The beginning of the film is fairly normal; Yukio brings home turtles as pets because they cannot have dogs or cats, Moemi has her braces removed, they take their turtles for walks (yes, there is a bit of animal cruelty in this film).  The situation at the apartment becomes strange when Moemi starts tying and knotting things up, books, apples, the turtles, everything.  She is diagnosed with Obsessive Knot-Tying Syndrome and only becomes worse.  The film descends into madness as Yukio has to deal with the increasingly worsening Moemi.  Various odd scenes follow.

Filmed much like Picnic (1996) and Swallowtail Butterfly (1996), Undo is mostly dark and shadowy, with grainy, fuzzy, and washed out colors.  Specific shots are stunning, and music is minimal and ineffective.  Acting is good–the girl is particularly interesting as she plays a strange woman who becomes obsessed with knotting things up.  Overall, the characters (all 3) were not normal and struck me as odd.  Specific shots were puzzling, as was the direction of the film; why some things happened, I don’t know.  Undo is a disturbing film that seeks to show love in a very unconventional way.  I probably won’t view it again, but watch it if you are interested in experimental film making or a fan of Iwai Shunji.

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