The Shell Collector

Adapted from Anthony Doerr’s short story of the same name, Tsubota’s second feature (and first in seven years) is an intensely poetic, hypnotically beautiful tale set in a pre-apocalyptic world very much like ours, and one that has been heavily influenced by the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami. Lily Franky (Like Father, Like Son, Our Little Sister) stars as a blind professor living out his days on a remote beach, his only company cryptic shortwave radio broadcasts and shells he collects. One day, however, a mysterious woman (Shinobu Terajima, R100, Caterpillar) washes ashore, dying from a disease affecting millions. But when she’s preternaturally healed after being accidently stung by one of the professor’s prized shellfish, seekers of the cure—and the professor’s estranged son, now the leader of an environmental organization—descend upon his solitude with increasingly urgent demands. Shot in Okinawa prefecture and featuring wonderfully abstract, meditative visual interludes by renowned experimental filmmaker Makino Takashi, The Shell Collector marks Tsubota as an emerging talent to watch, and is “portentous, gorgeous…offers a stark object lesson in nature’s dual-faced powers.”—Mark Schilling, The Japan Times. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Appears in: Japanese Currents

Genres: Drama