Yuki and Nina: A new beginning
by Vitor Pinto
16/05/2009 - After an opening day monopolised by Tetro [trailer], the anticipated by new film by Francis Ford Coppola, the second day of Cannes sidebar Directors' Fortnight continued yesterday with the screening of Yuki and Nina [trailer], a French/Japanese title co-directed by the Hiroshima-born Nobuhiro Suwa and French actor-turned-director Hippolyte Girardot.
Suwa, who previously made the story of a couple on the verge of separation in his A Perfect Couple [trailer] (2005), returns to the same topic, but this time from the perspective of a nine-year-old girl, Yuki (Noë Sampy), about to move to Japan with her Japanese mother, leaving behind her French father (Girardot) and her best friend Nina (Arielle Moutel).
Yuki and Nina (also the daughter of divorced parents) try hard to reconcile Yuki’s parents but soon discover reality is not quite the same as their fairy tale endings. Swinging between real-life situations they don’t understand and the world of imagination, the girls seem to be left with no other option but to escape from Paris. Circumstances lead to their getting lost in a forest.
Serving as a metaphor for a new beginning, the forest becomes a sort of magical frontier between France and Japan, in which Yuki, initially lost, decides to move forward and accept the unavoidable upcoming trip. It also marks the film’s change of register, from a realistic to a more lyrical atmosphere. From that moment on, parts of the plot are no longer explicitly shown but rather purely suggested.
According to Girardo, “In the process of making the film the forest became a ‘magical’ place for us as well. Suwa and I were also alone, without points of reference, lost and searching for our film.”
The result of their quest is a film that like its little protagonist holds a double identity. It combines a series of elements easily identified with both Asian and French cinema. Long and fixed shoots give the film a contemplative rhythm in which silence finds its place. At the same time, this lyrical approach is combined with more eloquent scenes, exploring the divorce drama but successfully avoiding turning it into a depressing story causing irreparable damage.
Yuki and Nina is co-produced by Comme des Cinémas, Les Films du lendemain, Arte France Cinéma and Japan’s Bitter End. At the Cannes Market is it part of the line-up of international sales agent Films Distribution.