Director Miyake Shô is very popular abroad for some of his films such as Playback (2012) et And your bird can sing (2018). His eighth feature film, The Beauty of the gesture, was shot on 16mm, which is something he says he always wanted to do. The film was screened in Berlin in February 2022, then at the international festivals in London and Pusan, and continues to be invited to many others. The film was also released in France at the end of August 2023.
Miyake Shô born in 1984 in Hokkaidô. Among his main films: Le Cockpit (2014), And your bird can sing (2018) et Wild tour (2019). His participation in the production of the six episodes of I drink : La Rancune (2020) Netflix’s first Japanese horror film series distributed simultaneously in more than 190 countries around the world has attracted attention.
A story born from a real person
The scenario of The Beauty of the gesture is based on the autobiography of Ogasawara Keiko, Makenaide (“Don’t let yourself be beaten”, published in 2011), a woman deaf from birth who became a professional boxer. Miyake Shô was hesitant when the producer first approached him with the project, but upon reading the book and researching boxing and hearing loss, he was fascinated by the freedom and sincerity with which Ogasawara approaches existence, and was seized with the desire to make a film about it.
MIYAKE SHÔ Although the film is based on the real life of Ogasawara Keiko, we changed the era, family relationships and names of the characters. It would obviously be different if it were a story a century old, but even if I had wanted to find the truth of a story barely ten years old, I don’t think I would have been able to convey what I wanted to say, because I would have been too focused on the differences between “then” and “nowadays”. To really pay homage to what this woman experienced, and that she continues to experience, I created a new story. This alone also allowed me to get the most out of the actors who worked with me on this film.
Keiko (Kishii Yukino) devotes herself to boxing with the support of the club owner (Miura Tomokazu) whom everyone calls “the president”. (© Film Production Committee / COMME DES CINÉMAS)
Kishii Yukino’s lead role was decided during the pre-production phase. At first, she was apprehensive about the idea of having to learn to box. This concern was swept away by the training she followed three months before filming. Under the guidance of Matsuura Shinichiro, who also plays the role of the coach in the film, she and the director trained like true beginners.
KISHII YUKINO Normally I imagine the character after reading the script, but this time I started boxing training before the script was finished, so I feel like Keiko is is formed during this process. Thanks to this, I was able to step into the role without any preconceived ideas.
— How did you deal with the fact that the model is real?
K.Y. I thought that if I tried to look like the character or imitate his actions, it would come off as an imitation at best, which is quite crude, actually. For my part, I rather sought to show the way in which I myself saw this woman called Keiko in Miyake’s scenario. So, I think we all looked in the same direction, showing the greatest respect to Ogasawara, based on the fact that we are telling our own story.
Kishii Yukino was born in 1992 in Kanagawa Prefecture. She made her debut as an actress in 2009 and has appeared in cinema, theater, television series, etc. In 2019, she won the 43rd Japanese Academy Award for Best New Actress for Ai ga Nanda (“What is love?”). With La Beauté du geste, she won the Best Leading Actress Award.
— In addition to boxing, you have also trained in sign language. What was it like playing a role without dialogue?
K.Y. Keiko writes down her feelings and emotions in a notebook every day, and it’s also a habit that I personally have had for a long time, to write down things that I don’t want to forget or unexpressed thoughts. I’m not a talkative person in my private life and, first of all, I don’t feel like I process my emotions by talking. I didn’t feel stressed by the lack of dialogue. I kind of thought that what I felt as Keiko was going to come straight into the film, that it would be there because I didn’t have to explain it in words.
Deaf actors play Keiko’s friends. The scene in which the three speak in sign language is deliberately not subtitled. (© Film Production Committee / COMME DES CINÉMAS)
An intense but happy atmosphere on set
Miura Tomokazu plays the role of the owner of the boxing club that Keiko frequents. The many scenes between him and Keiko, such as the morning training on the banks of the Arakawa River and the shadow boxing side by side in front of the room mirror, are all extraordinary and unforgettable.
As Miura Tomokazu says, the day he arrived on set he saw Kishii in the gym, it was the first time they had to work together and he was immediately convinced that the film would be good.
MIURA TOMOKAZU “You already have it!” It’s Keiko! » (laughs). She was already perfectly in the atmosphere of a professional boxer. I played the role of the stare, but Keiko was there, so all I had to do was observe her. I did a bit of boxing when I was in my thirties, so I know what it’s like, but it’s no small feat to get to that level!
Miura Tomokazu born in 1952 in Yamanashi Prefecture, he made his film debut in 1974 with The Izu Dancer, for which he won the 18th Blue Ribbon Award for Most Promising Actor. Since then, he has appeared in a large number of films, television series and commercials.
Kishii Yukino is a dynamic actress, and when she shows off complex sequences, she truly looks like a pro. The scene in which she fights with Matsuura, who plays her bear-paw trainer, is thoroughly convincing and one of the film’s highlights.
— There’s also the training scene with the bear-paw president
K.Y. The scene at the bear’s paw with Matsuura was really excellent: “Come on, I’ve been doing this my whole life!” “. But with Miura, I was very nervous!
M.T. No, but wait, what does that mean?
K.Y. It’s not every day that you’re lucky enough to have the president put his bear paw on to drag you along! Now, I had to show that I was really talented, right? Was I really Keiko? I’m saying it now, and that’s what Keiko must have had in mind at that moment. But I was much more nervous than with Matsuura and it wasn’t easy.
The “president” and Keiko in shadow boxing in front of the large mirror of the boxing club while doing shadow boxing. Communication passes. (© Film Production Committee / COMME DES CINÉMAS)
M.T. Say right away that it’s difficult to fight against an unskilled partner! (laughs).
K.Y. That’s not what i meant ! I thought this tension was a direct expression of the relationship between Keiko and the president.
— Was there any tension on set?
M.S. Seeing Kishii Yukino, Miura Tomokazu and the other actors literally stand in front of the camera and put their whole heart and soul into it, the whole staff said to themselves that there was no question of ruining it by acting in ‘pretty much, and me too. Everyone was very focused, and the atmosphere on set was happy and comfortable at all times. The editing process was a lot of fun and we watched the movie over and over and laughed a lot.
Keiko lives with her brother, who is not disabled. (© Film Production Committee / COMME DES CINÉMAS)
That’s it, that’s it, a film
The director remembers a humorous anecdote that Miura Tomokazu told him before the launch of the project, and which had left an impression on him.
M.S. In life, I find that a serious event is always followed the next day by a laughable event. I remember Miura once saying to me something like, “It’s never good to be too serious.” » It is because we had exchanges of this level in the past that we were able to film in an open and comfortable manner.
—What did you mean by that, Miura Tomokazu?
M.T. For example, even during a family member’s funeral, there will be a moment when you can’t stop laughing, right? Of course, if you’re in a fit of laughter it might not be very appropriate, but I think it’s just human to laugh at some times and cry at others. And perhaps the ideal for an actor is to be able to make people feel that it’s not unnatural, that there are all kinds of very different people among humans.
Sendô Nobuko (left) plays the wife of the “president”. (© Film Production Committee / COMME DES CINÉMAS)
K.Y. That’s exactly what happened with this movie. He captures moments of life. Nothing sublimely important.
M.T. It’s not exactly a happy ending, by the way.
K.Y. No. The film depicts Keiko’s daily life, and while it doesn’t really matter to others, to her the idea that the club could disappear makes her sick. Despite this, the film carefully captures the passing days. And day after day ends up being what we call a life, right? I’m really happy to have been able to focus on this point, and I think we made a really sensitive film.
— As a director, your objective was also to film the accumulation of the little things of everyday life?
M.S. That’s exactly what Miura said earlier. I want to make films that make people think, “This is what human beings look like.” I think the important thing is to film accurately, after thinking about who people are in essence, without preconceived ideas or prejudices, and without making assumptions. This is what I felt when reading Ogasawara Keiko’s autobiography. She is the kind of person who does not neglect the little troubles of the heart and who faces everything with sincerity. That’s how I thought about how I was going to deal with this topic, and then I decided to make it happen with everyone.
— Kishii Yukino, Miura Tomokazu, what is the experience of becoming a member of “Team Miyake”?
K.Y. I was thrilled to be able to act in a 16mm film in this day and age. I’ve always loved seeing films in this format. The sound of the reel in the camera, that atypical sound, is removed in the finished film, isn’t it? But it’s like the sound of a pickaxe when building a tunnel. I was more than happy to hear the “sound of a movie being made” with my own ears. The fixed camera was also interesting. She waits patiently for me to approach. I have to move towards the camera while dodging while dancing with my upper body.
M.T. I grew up with cinema. It’s been a long time since I heard the expression “reel change”, it was very nostalgic. I thought it would be nice to shoot in European Vista format. I felt the same way on set, and also when I saw the finished film. There you go, a film, that’s it! It’s also good that there is only ambient sound, no synthetic sound.
Satisfaction is synonymous with perfection
K.Y. Nothing made me happier than being able to hug a tearful Ms. Ogasawara as she came out of the preview (the first screening strictly for those involved in the production). Ms. Ogasawara and her family were all so happy. For the first time, I felt like I had reached a new level of satisfaction for having made the film.
M.T. The film is very simple in its structure, but it has a lot of strength. After seeing it, the only thing I could say was, “Interesting!” » That’s the only word that came to mind to describe him, in the truest sense of the word. I hugged everyone when I left the screening room (laughs). That’s how I honestly felt at the end of the film. Because, Yukino-san, you are extraordinary in it. It’s a wonderful surprise.
K.Y. (in tears) I’m so happy with what you just said!
M.S. And I therefore…
M.T. Already, the fact that Ms. Ogasawara has seen the film three times says it all.
M.S. All the actors in the film are extraordinary. It’s true. Even if a compliment from the director, no one will believe it (laughs). So let’s only talk about Kishii Yukino, from the first viewing, her talent shines through the screen.
(© Film Production Committee / COMME DES CINÉMAS)
M.T. She carries the film at arm’s length. We only see her and it is well deserved!
M.S. She pulled everyone along, there was an extraordinary motivation to give the best of oneself around her.
M.T. Kishii Yukino is an actress who will leave her mark on the industry in the future, but of all the films she has acted in so far, this one is probably her favorite, I’m sure?
M.T. Oh, that’s clear. This is your masterpiece yet.
K.Y. I can’t imagine what kind of roles I will encounter in the future. Looking back on filming, my emotions as Keiko, the character, were stronger than my own. The director took care of all the nitty-gritty stuff, so all I was thinking was, “I don’t want to lose.” I want to be strong. »
The beauty of the gesture is also a story about a crossroads that life leads us to cross, all of us, namely continuing to do what we love, or looking for a new path. Kishii Yukino experienced it in this film with acuteness of all her senses, as Keiko experienced it in the ring, and on the screen.
(Interview conducted in December 2022, before the film’s release in Japan. Interview photos: Hanai Tomoko)
(© Film Production Committee / COMME DES CINÉMAS)
Original work: Makenaidede Ogasawara Keiko Réalisateur : Miyake Shô Scénario : Miyake Shô, Sakai Masaaki Casting : Kishii Yukino, Miura Tomokazu, Matsuura Shinichirô, Satô Himi, Sendô Nobuko Année : 2022 Site officiel :
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