Recently I was on a 12 hour flight contemplating what I thought would be an eternity of reading time which somehow did not come to pass. I would still recommend Anthony Capella’s ‘Empress of Ice cream’ as good inflight reading, but on this occasion the only thing I could concentrate on, apart from my eight and nine year old companions was the Inflight magazine.
I read that magazine right through, but could I find a film that suited my mood when a book couldn’t? Well, I admit I was hard-pressed; whether it was a book or a movie – both passive pastimes – what I really wanted was to get horizontal like my sleeping companions had somehow managed. Nothing Hollywoodesque tempted me, so I found myself scrutinising the blurbs for the Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Singaporean films and found a wonderful gem ‘Hankyu Railway – A 15 Minute Miracle.’
The Hankyu Railway, a 15 minute one way line, is what links the stories of a few characters as they navigate pertinent issues in their respective lives. A young office worker learns of her fiancés infidelity and exacts revenge while trying to retain her honour; a grandmother with her granddaughter who never encroaches past the accepted boundaries of tolerance, decides to speak the words other have thought but never ventured and brings with it the wisdom and respect of her years.
Much is understood without ever needing to be said, but what is so beautiful about this film and these journeys is that each of these characters does decide to step beyond convention and say something that will make a difference.
The film is based on Hiro Arikawa’s bestselling novel ‘Hankyu Densha’ and it is a tribute to reaching out, to acknowledging another human being, acting on an instinct for the good of humanity. It is about small acts of kindness, that a few words might somehow change the course of a fellow human being’s life for the better.
It reminds me of another favourite Japanese film, though they are very different. ‘The Forest of Mogari’ relies less on dialogue and is a story of the human spirit, a meditation on life, death, grief and the necessity of letting go.