Sion Sono is a man who likes to do everything. Although he only writes, directs and composes the music for The Land of Hope he is also known to act and be his own cinematographer at times, as well as being a poet – of course. The Land of Hope is set in the fictional town of Oba, Nagashima, Japan and follows two families; the Onos and the Suzukis. They are neighbours in a rural farming community experiencing the devastating aftermath of a nuclear disaster – sadly something Japan knows all too often.
Much like many Japanese films, the story focuses on the family construct and The Land of Hope particularly focuses on the younger generation as the revival of life and displaying the nature of humans to carry on in the most difficult of situations. This is effectively shown through the decision of the Onos’ son and wife who choose to evacuate their infected farming town for a larger city while Yoichi Ono’s father chooses to stay in his home with his wife who has dementia. It is quick for the viewer to find out how affected Yoichi’s mother is by the disease. It is deeply affecting to watch Yoichi’s father tend to his wife as well as be at peace with his life in his much beloved town.
Despite my perhaps morose description of the film it has funny moments and it also manages to portray the universal challenges a young family face against a more unusual sci-fi-esque background. Sion Sono is perhaps a more cult director but has built a dedicated following over his 37+ films. A genuinely interesting, heartfelt and ambitious film. I am surprised it hasn’t had more attention after it did the film festival circuit and picked up a handful of awards but maybe this is where it starts? Watch The Land of Hope!