Review: Miss Osaka
- Victoria Carmen Sonne dazzles as a woman who totally reinvents herself in a new life on another continent in a peculiar film by Danish director Daniel Dencik
"Don’t believe what you see. I can be whoever I want to be, anyone except myself. We’re always so busy worrying about who we are, about who we want to be, about what we’re afraid of. And then, there are moments when all those thoughts vanish: you’re just there, and it’s magical." Danish filmmaker Daniel Dencik clearly likes to venture into distant lands, because following a first feature film, Gold Coast [+see also:
interview: Daniel Dencik
film profile] (2015), shot in Ghana and Burkina Faso, he’s now back with Miss Osaka, which was unveiled in competition and in an international premiere at the 37th Warsaw Film Festival. It’s a paradoxical film which builds a bridge between Scandinavia and Japan, and which blends various film genres together in search of a "place where you can be who you want to be, a place of freedom, for dreamers."
Sometimes, life can feel like an onerous and depressing routine, and this is certainly the case for Ines (Victoria Carmen Sonne), an aimless young woman who kills time following in the wake of her partner, archetypal executive Lucas (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) who’s a specialist in solar panels in a globalised economy (if Norwegian modules are produced in Singapore, why not buy some from the Chinese?). Huge bay windows, a house on the edge of a lake, high-class restaurants… But Ines trails a veil of sadness behind her which Maria (Nagisa Morimoto) - a Japanese tourist she randomly meets on her way to see the Northern Lights - manages to break through. Hitting it off instantaneously, the two women set off on a tour of the Norwegian wilds where they have fun like a pair of teenagers, until an unexpected event presents Ines with an opportunity to escape her destiny… She subsequently takes off to Japan with Maria’s identity papers in hand, moves into the latter’s home and gets a job as a hostess in the night-club where her Japanese friend once worked. It’s a profession which she slowly gets to grips with (with great difficulty, to begin with), learning the requisite camouflage and seduction techniques, and increasingly gaining in confidence, to the point she eventually draws the affections of the dangerous Shigeru (Mirai Moriyama). But Maria’s shadow looms over new Ines’s new life …
Treading the line between realism and oneirism, between a film of multiple genres (thriller, psychological, sentimental, ethnological) and a nigh-on conceptual work based on the playful nature of imagination (offering a nod to Blow Up by Antonioni), Miss Osaka is undoubtedly a film which lays claim to a certain strangeness, a dream-like zone which doesn’t encumber itself with implacable logic, which subsequently disconcerts as much as it intrigues and which confirms the wholly unique charisma of Victoria Carmen Sonne (named the European Film Promotion’s Shooting Star of 2020, and well-received in Holiday [+see also:
interview: Victoria Carmen Sonne
film profile] as well as in Neon Heart [+see also:
interview: Laurits Flensted-Jensen
film profile]), an actress to be watched very closely.
The first ever co-production between Denmark, Norway and Japan, Miss Osaka is produced by Haslund Dencik Entertainment in co-production with Rein Film, Filmfond Nord, Filmcamp, Vice Denmark, Beo Post, Tonemestrene and C&I Entertainment. International sales are steered by Alpha Violet.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.