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Mori, The Artist's Habitat (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
Okita Shuichi (Actor, Director) | Kase Ryo (Actor) | Yamazaki Tsutomu (Actor) | Ushio Kensuke (Actor)
Mori, The Artist's Habitat (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
Living the hermit life
January 29, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
What would it be like to not step out of your home for three decades?

Okita Shuichi's charmingly simple drama Mori, The Artist's Habitat imagines a day in the latter life of Kumagai Morikazu, who was famous for his distinctly stylized and colorful paintings of plants, animals and everyday scenery. He was also famous for being a recluse who never left his home for the last few decades of his long life. It would be tempting to call the artist a hikikomori – his name is even Mori – but Okita's wonderful little film provides a gentle, whimsical look into the rich world of a happy hermit who rightfully has no need to step outside.

As portrayed by the great Yamazaki Tsutomu, the nonagenarian painter is a peculiar old soul who is endlessly engrossed with the boundless wonders that exist in his vast garden. He can spend hours every day observing and pondering different things in the garden, be it a leaf, a stone or an army of ants. The camera lingers leisurely for the audience to share in the beauty and marvels of nature, and the ebb and flow of Mori's ordinary day.

If this premise sounds like it could be staid and boring, Mori, The Artist's Habitat is anything but. The peaceful and perceptive drama has a healthy dose of good humor. Mori, who delightfully dons a pointy hat that makes him look like a garden gnome, draws warm smiles and hearty chuckles with his behavioral quirks and abrupt thoughts that make you think a bit deeper. Though he has withdrawn from society at large, he is not at all lacking in human contact with his supportive wife (Kiki Kirin) around. His home is also host to a constant stream of visitors and neighbors, whose interactions with Mori also provide gentle laughs. Anyhow, his day somehow seems far more eventful and sociable than most of my days!

Mori, The Artist's Habitat reveals very little about Mori's life story or, really, even his art which barely appears onscreen. Instead, Okita's unconventional approach to a biographical drama simply seeks to understand the artist and the habitat that shaped his life and art.

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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