In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, many filmmakers spoke of how deeply the disaster had affected them, but few have tried to confront it head-on. Some of the most successful efforts to date have been documentaries, one of which inspired this quietly devastating drama.

"Voices in the Wind" is based on a real-life pilgrimage spot: a telephone booth in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, known as the "wind phone," where mourners go to have conversations with people they've lost.

It's easy to imagine this providing the basis for a mawkish tearjerker, along the lines of the 2018 film adaptation of Toshikazu Kawaguchi's novel "Before the Coffee Gets Cold." Instead, director Nobuhiro Suwa takes a more experimental approach, and withholds the story's main hook until so late in the day, it's practically a coda.