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Chain (2004)

  Directed by: Jem Cohen
Written by: Jem Cohen
Starring: Mira Billotte, Miho Nikaido
Links: Chain on the IMDb
Genre: Documentary

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Something a little different" - a review by pearly

The films of Jem Cohen are a little left of centre. In the past, he's worked with various bands to produce "films" highlighting their work, such as Fugazi's Instrument (1998). Chain is just his, but it still has that same kind of vibe to it.

The film is billed as a documentary, but it kinda... isn't. It has its basis in fact, but it is as much a fictional drama as it is a non-fiction. In the beginning, it is quite similar to Baraka (1992), only set in more city scapes than the predominently rural landscapes of Baraka. It is beautiful, but only to the extent that you can find high rises to be beautiful. And there are, for the first little portion of the film anyway, no real "characters". But as the film progresses, its focus shifts.

We are introduced to Amanda (Mira Billotte) and Tamiko (Miho Nikaido). Amanda has, for reasons that are not fully clear, left her family and travelled some distance across America, and now makes her home in abandoned houses or the streets, preferring to stick close to a shopping mall, so that she may spend her days wandering around the shops, and trying to pick up odd jobs. Tamiko, on the other hand, is on a business trip from her native Japan, and she is doing her best to get along in this foreign country, whilst trying to impress her bosses back home, and to always toe the company line.

Both of these people are essentially alone, and the film explores, with some degree of success, the subject of the corporatisation of the World, and where an individual's place is within it. Clever then, that the two central characters are from America and Japan, both countries where big business is all the rage, but both so different in their approach towards such matters, due in part to their histories as well as their social structures (this was also tackled in the more literal documentary The Men Who Would Conquer China, about China and the USA). Having these two characters side-by-side provided a nice balance to things.

Chain introduced some really interesting questions about the way that society is headed, and the differences between the way that some people choose to live. It is, in many ways, quite a philosophical film, with as much depth to it as you choose to get from it. It could easily be accused of going nowhere, and its format is a little odd, meaning that it will only really appeal to quite an open audience, but I enjoyed its very loose format, and especially the tale of Tamiko.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 19 Aug 2005

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