To the Ends of the Earth

Tabi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari

Japanese auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa explores cross-cultural miscommunication in this engagingly low-key portrait of a TV host becoming lost in Uzbekistan.

Dir-Scr Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Prod Eiko Mizuno-Gray, Jason Gray, Toshikazu Nishigaya
With Atsuko Maeda, Ryo Kase, Shota Sometani
Sales Free Stone Productions
With English subtitles

The young frontwoman for a clichéd travel show, Yoko is a consummate professional. Though she’s often forgotten or ignored by the small crew she’s on the road with, as soon as the camera switches on she radiates 100-watt charisma and game-for-anything attitude. As the programme runs dry on ideas, she tries to forge her own connections to Uzbekistan and soon her cultural assumptions knock her off course. Kurosawa shifts gears from his recent apocalyptic riffs to something that, at first glance, seems more down-to-earth. But there is a different kind of fear at play here – that of the Other. Centred on a beautifully measured performance by Atsuko Maeda, To the Ends of the Earth offers a beguiling perspective on the pleasures and dangers of curiosity.

Kate Taylor