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Seeing Beyond Sight With the Emotional Impact of Visual Storytelling

Radiance (Hikari)


Genre: Drama, Romance
Year Released: 2017, 2023 US digital release
Runtime: 1h 42m
Director(s): Naomi Kawase
Writer(s): Naomi Kawase
Cast: Ayame Misaki, Masatoshi Nagase, Tatsuya Fuji
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Where To Watch: premieres via VOD & Digital on April 28, 2023

RAVING REVIEW: This film is as much of a piece of art as a story about art. Emerging from the shadows, RADIANCE shares a captivating romance tale that comes crashing together. Misako Ozaki (Ayame Misaki), an expert in audio descriptions for films, forms an unlikely yet profound bond with Masaya Nakamori (Masatoshi Nagase), a photographer grappling with a degenerative eye condition. As Misako stumbles upon Nakamori's photos, she embarks on a voyage to her past, with the pair forging a connection in their pursuit of light. (okay, that’s enough light puns for me)

This film debuted at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, earning the Ecumenical Jury Prize and a prestigious Palme d'Or nomination with continued recognition at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Denver International Film Festival, and Spain's Valladolid International Film Festival. The film is making its debut in the US on April 28 on VOD and Digital.

RADIANCE relies heavily on pacing and lighting to show the feeling and heartache associated with the harsh reality of irreversible vision loss. This isn’t done superficially but in a way that lets you feel the suffering of this challenge firsthand. As the story unravels, Misako, weighed down by life's troubles, has to overcome and rediscover the balance between her past and present.

Beyond the conventional romance, RADIANCE explores themes of perception, reality, and cinema's ability to convey a sense of truth. Director Naomi Kawase's vision showcases the splendor of nature, everyday life, and the small wonders that can captivate us if we open ourselves to emotional involvement—somehow showing that the simplest things can still overcome the most insurmountable challenges in life.

RADIANCE employs numerous close-ups and carefully crafted focusing techniques to add to the visual journey that this film so powerfully uses. Kawase highlights the significance of companionship and emotional healing, crafting a story that resonates on a profoundly human level. The film stands as a testament to the power of art to bridge the gaps between individuals and their surroundings and showcases what art means to individuals vs. a mass audience.

RADIANCE invites viewers to contemplate the beauty and fragility of life as an homage to cinema's impact. Its stark visuals, compelling performances, and profound exploration of the human spirit make for an unforgettable experience not to be missed. Perfect for those who appreciate a moving and thought-provoking story.

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[photo courtesy of FILM MOVEMENT]

Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.