Some parents pride themselves on knowing their teenage children, and some parents truly don't have a clue. There is a fair amount of overlap between the two groups, especially when the teenagers try to please Mom and Dad while going their own sweet way.
One parent in the clueless category is Akikazu Fujishima (Koji Yakusho), a former police detective who left the force and divorced his wife after brutally beating her lover. He has since fallen into drunkenness and despair, while exercising his bad temper at every opportunity. Then one day, months after his sudden resignation, his ex-wife (Asuka Kurosawa) calls to tell him that their 17-year-old daughter Kanako (Nana Komatsu) has disappeared without a trace. Fujishima begins to investigate, starting with the bag Kanako left at home. Out tumbles a little box filled with illegal substances and Fujishima realizes that Kanako's good-girl image was a facade.
Based on a novel by Akio Fukamachi, Tetsuya Nakashima's "Kawaki" (which translates as "Thirst," but is released overseas as "The World of Kanako") displays a blend of high intensity, hyper-short cuts and flamboyant visuals that will be familiar to viewers of Nakashima's previous films such as "Kokuhaku (Confessions)," and "Kamikaze Girls." Also, the story of a down-and-out dad searching desperately for his estranged daughter, in a last-ditch attempt at redemption and renewal, has its parallels in many local dramas. But "Kawaki" departs early on from the usual girl-gone-missing melodrama by hinting that a hanky-wringing finale — one where dad and daughter tearfully reconcile, etc. — is not on the cards. And it's not only because Fujishima is such a repulsive character, batting about the women he encounters with enraged abandon. Kanako, whom we first encounter in strobe-like flashbacks, is a vision of loveliness, elusiveness and what seems to be blithe, amoral indifference.