Setting: Obihiro in Hokkaido in present day Japan.
When you’re lost everything, is there a place you can go back to?
Manabu Yazaki, who had big dreams of success in Tokyo, loses his high-class lifestyle as well as his family and returns home to the Hokkaido heartland in midwinter. There his elder brother Takeo managers a stable for “Banei horserace”, a sleigh-pulling race unique to Hokkaido. Their long overdue reunion exposes the gap between them even more. Takeo does not let his brother meet their aging mother who is living in a nursing home.
However, while he watches Manabu interact with the sometimes quirky stable workers and the horses as they face the challenges of racing day in and day out, Takeo decides to have his brother met their mother. Gradually the two men develop an understanding between them.
In the end, Manabu puts his all into taking care of horse that was supposed to be killed for not taking home the prize money in its road to recovery. For Manabu, this becomes his chance to “reset” his own life and a hope for his new start.
What the Snow Brings is a horseracing movie, though not anything like the american film, Seabiscuit (2003, directed by Gary Ross). It resembles the special Ban’ei race in its apprdach to narrative. It is linear, with no effort to disturb time through flashbacks or flashforwards, yet it doesn’t obsessively rush head on. It sometimes stops, even skipping an action or two, and then get started again, but not always to close the circle with an obvious ending. Negishi Kichitaro, who was the nephew of Negishi Kan’ichi, one of the great producers of Japanese film history, debuted as a film director in Nikkatsu “Roman Porno” before making waves with the ATG film Distant Thunder (“Enrai,” 1981).
He experienced a lull in the 1990s, but the critically acclaimed What the Snow Brings helped mark his return to the top rung of Japanese directors.
Color / Vista / 2004 /132 min / Office Shirous, Eisei Gekijo, Bandai Visual
Director: Negishi Kichitaro
Script: Kato Masato
Based on the novel by: Narumi Sho
Cinematography: Machida Hiroshi
Art Direction: Ogawa Fumio Music: Ito Goro
Executive Producer: Wakasugi Masaaki
Producer: Tanabe Masako
Yazaki Manabu: Iseya Yusuke
Yazald Takeo, his older brother: Sato Koichi
Tanaka Haruko: Koizumi Kyoko
Shudo Makie: Fukiishi Kazue
Tanba: Yamazaki Tsutomu
Ogasawara: Kagawa Teruyuki
Yazald Shizuko, Manabu’s mother: Kusabue Mitsuko
Kurokawa: Shiina Kippei
Fujimaki Tamotsu: Denden
Ozeld: Tsugawa Masahiko
Tetsuo: Yamamoto Hiroshi
Sudo: Ozawa Yukiyoshi