Fantasia 2019 Review: “Day and Night” (2019) ★★★★

The concept of revenge has always remained an important part of Japanese culture. Therefore, watching how it unfolds in the cinematic world, despite its sad premise, has never stopped fascinating its audience. “Day and Night” from director Michihito Fujii is not an exception.

Koji Akashi’s (Shin’nosuke Abe) father commits suicide which leaves the young man devastated and his widow heartbroken. Shortly after, Koji learns about his father being a whistleblower who leaked information to the public about damaged wheels that could cause accidents. After meeting Kenichi Kitamura (Masanobu Andô), the owner of an orphanage, the man gets an offer to cook for children, while at night he hells Kenichi to steal cars and resell them. Realizing that Kenichi is capable of committing crimes, Koji discovers in himself a part which he was not aware of, including the most wishful desire he carries with him – to avenge the death of his late father.

The title of this film, “Day and Night” perfectly fits into Koji’s personality in spite of him being two different persons in broad light and during the deep night. When he uncovers the truth about Nakamichi Motors’ fraudulent report, our hero begins his quest by reshaping himself towards the darkness. In the orphanage, he is a caring chief who, same as Kenichi, adores every single child but bonds with Nana (Kaya Kiyohara), a young girl whose past is as devastating as Koji’s present.

There’s an interesting character arc in Fujii’s film. When we first meet Koji, he is a quiet and harmless man. However, all that changes when he begins exploring the dangerous nightlife introduced by Kenichi, as the only way to finance the orphanage. The dialogue between the two men is important for Koji to change himself as he begins revisiting who he is and who he should become to fulfill the necessity of becoming who the unjust society wants him to be.

In the end, “Day and Night” is another decent drama from Japan that never slows down when it comes to telling a human story. Even though the main concept of it is revenge, redemption is also part of it when each and every character involved tries to find refuge from their despair and turn it into an asset that can be used as a booster for courage. That’s what makes this film such a delightful journey filled with sadness, care, love, and death.

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