Terése Flynn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Part of my Scavenger Hunt #2 list. Task:
17. A depressing film
A man is drawn to a woman who sits with a red umbrella on the railway tracks every day. It's one of her rituals. Things she does every day to escape reality, or sometimes, to soothe her when the anxiety and despair become too much to ignore. Every day is a struggle to want to keep living, and every day she says that tomorrow is her birthday.
I saw this movie eight years back when I was in a really dark place in my life, or, in my mind rather. And I have such a clear memory of how much this movie affected me back then. It affected me because I could understand exactly what was going on in her mind. But that was eight years ago, and I've dreaded to revisit Ritual. I've wanted to keep my personal relationship to it intact. But today was the day that I would face the reality when it comes to this movie. Because it wasn't as great and beautiful as I remember it being.
A lot of weight is put on the actors' shoulders in Ritual, and then I'm talking about Shunji Iwai who play the "Director" and Ayako Fujitani who play the unnamed girl he falls in love with. Unfortunately they can't live up to the task of portraying these characters. Iwai acting being the most flawed. I also found the voice over narrative being unnecessary. The movie's narrative is strong enough in itself to tell the story. Even though I might suspect that it demands more from the viewer when it comes to personal experiences.
There's still a great story here though, great in a way that few stories are. A full-blown melodrama that demands a lot from its audience emotionally as it seldom delivers any comfort. And that's something that makes me very sure of that I would've hated this movie if it didn't feel so "close to home". Even today it stirs up mind terrors I almost had forgotten I had. And that apartment complex, where they spend most of their time, is amazing looking. Adding some beauty to the ugliness of a mind that is tangled up in its own misery.