Quick-Thoughts: Paul Schrader’s Mishima (1985)

This is just Forrest Gump but for obnoxious, low-life movie chads like myself. Sad face. 

An odyssey that transcends our creative work into our legitimate actions, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a biographical motion picture that decides to primarily use the interworks of acclaimed author Yukio Mishima’s fictional novellas rather than the factual pieces of his material life. Not only does this ego-bending motion picture have some of the greatest cinematography to ever be bargained with the camera, as well as a surreally enthralling score by Philip Glass, but it’s topped off with a Paul freakin’ Schrader screenplay. You’d think that I would’ve not been surprised by Mishima turning out to be a bonafide masterpiece, yet here I am with my jaw dropped to the f*****g equator. 

A key distinction that Mishima boasts with compared to the average film is its scenery; it’s often complemented by obvious stage sets, paper crafts, artistic abstractions, color-inducing patterns and lighting tricks. If the aesthetic setting of “origami” existed in the realm of cinema, it would probably be best showcased in this movie. Whenever we delve into the fictional stories of Yukio Mishima, the scenery appears as if we’re walking through the peak of what exquisite art museums could bless us with. Kyohi Saski’s set work here is a revolution in what can be used to illustrate scenery in the everyday movie. Her efforts in Mishima feel like endless designs which can appear almost as top-tier, separate works of visual art in their own rights; it’s genuinely something that must’ve indubitably inspired the evolution of cinematic decoration after it’s release. 

As with Taxi Driver and as with Schrader’s later release First Reformed, the director/ writer hybrid has discovered a hack to reshape the lonely-man-turned-unhinged story to an unconventional and frankly inspiring pulp. It’s a passionate statement on how all that fictional art you had created over the decades, in an attempt to make sense of life, may have just been a hinting disclosure or partial blueprint to your consciously decided destiny in the real world. This is one of those rare movies where it’s hard to believe that it actually exists, yet here it lies, at the convenience of your television. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is impeccable to otherworldly degrees. 

Verdict: A+

“Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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