Raktim Nandi ☭’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I'm sorry, sorry, sorry! Sorry Ko-Chan. It's my fault. I'm alright now. I'm alright now. Sorry Ko-Chan."
"The Clone Returns Home" survives in a realm of its own, where it shares a profound relationship with its two neighbours, the post-apocalyptic fictions of "Fe" and "The Box." In this unusual dimension, narrative is non-essential to a movie's progress. Instead, sentiments are created by its individuality, manifested by the permanent and dynamic appearance of love and memories.
Finally, Nakajima Kanji manages to procure a decent budget. The result is wonderful: Nakajima's mastery over conceptual science-fiction was already evident, but with a bit more freedom to establish visual attractiveness, his talent blossoms to yield a truly remarkable movie: partway abstract, somewhat universal, that ponders the nature of life through reminiscences.
It is a film that disobeys genre conventions and expectations, a trait not unexpected from the director, but nevertheless simultaneously stunning and satisfying. It has flickers of Hou's most emotionally potent household narratives and the spirit of certain transcendental Soviet masterpieces.
The character of Kohei is of paramount importance. Multiple interpretations of him are glimpsed throughout the runtime, and initially, discrepancies emerge in their attitudes. The focus of the film is to sketch the differences and then eradicate them through a downpour of nostalgic unions. In a way, the film is basically a tale of soul-searching, but even this description is not wholly accurate.
The greatest beauty of "The Clone Returns Home" does not lie in its abstraction or reflective spirit. It is the exquisiteness with which the characters are received with that truly binds with the spectator. At no moment does the film endeavour to grow weary of the crises faced by Kohei, Tokie and the rest. They are treated with absolute sympathy and tolerance, a method almost unseen in even the most contemplative of films.
Of course, a metaphysical elegance trickles throughout the runtime. It connects almost every character in a bond of acquaintance and recollections and rarely goes to the extent of materializing to conserve or fulfil them. Similar to the protective compassion, the metaphysical barrier provides a translucent mystery and a climate of peaceful disquiet.
Nakajima's third feature is one of the great films of the 21st century. The idea is interesting, the subjects relatable and the atmosphere real in its unrealism. It is neither limited to the confines of genre nor focussed on the exhibition of a dreadful world. It is a testament to the human soul that, out of loneliness, repeatedly return to the loving ghosts of the past.
ORIGINAL TITLE: クローンは故郷をめざす (Kurōn wa kokyō o mezasu)
TRANSLATION: The clone returns home
Here's a list of the films I consider to be the pinnacle of cinema: LIST.