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‘Day is Done’

by Kaori Shoji

“I hope you’re alive when I see you again. Ciao.” That’s one of the messages left on the home answering machine of filmmaker Thomas Imbach (“Mary Queen of Scots”) who made a little autobiographical detour in an auspicious film career with “Day is Done.”

Shot entirely from the window of Imbach’s studio, this is a cinematic novella in which we hear people leaving messages on Imbach’s machine; some are exuberant (like his agent telling him he’s won a prize at a film festival) but mostly they sound a bit frustrated. One recurring caller is his ex-wife, who has moved out with their infant son. At times, she seems friendly and positive about bringing up their child. Mostly though, her tone and words imply a deep sadness at his coldness.

Could the film be Imbach’s way of atoning? It’s hard to say. The main emotion here isn’t loneliness or regret but a sort of clinical detachment. Imbach himself is strangely absent, proffering no personal reaction apart from what he sees outside his window. As a filmmaker, we sense his skill; the precision of his technique. But as a man, he radiates no intimacy. That he seems fascinated by this trait makes the film itself fascinating.

For a chance to win one of five pairs of tickets to “Day is Done,” visit jtimes.jp/film.