Edmund Yeo has been a fixture in Japan’s film scene for such a long time now, it’s almost a surprise that it has taken him this long to produce an entirely Japanese-language feature. Since coming to international attention in 2009 with his inventive, Tokyo-set short film, “Kingyo,” the Malaysian director has always been able to count on an enthusiastic reception here.
With “Moonlight Shadow,” he’s delivered both his most cohesive and most conventional feature to date. It’s also the first that doesn’t feel like it was made for audiences at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and while some viewers may miss the stylistic audacity of Yeo’s earlier work, this mournful mood piece makes a virtue of consistency.
It’s based on a 1988 short story by Banana Yoshimoto, a writer who used to be mentioned in the same breath as Haruki Murakami, but seems to have fallen out of vogue with Anglophone readers. The film keeps many of the story’s basic components, but makes some significant revisions that aren’t always for the better.