By: Mark Barber
Those unfamiliar with the intensity and insanity of Sion Sono’s films might be understandably overwhelmed by the excessively violent Tag, one of six films that the Japanese filmmaker has made this year (Love & Peace is also playing at Toronto After Dark, and his fantastic and unconventional sci-fi drama The Whispering Star played at TIFF last month). Others, however, will find Tag to be yet another exhilarating action-packed outing from Sono.
Narrative-wise, Tag is a difficult film to describe without giving too much away. The film follows Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) as she becomes immersed in a bizarre, Carrollian world (or is it worlds?) where her and her friends are the targets of varying forces (razor-sharp winds, machine-gun wielding schoolteachers, and, in a great visual gag, a man-pig).
Although Tag offers plenty of quick paced action sequences (some of which are downright petrifying), it does suffer from some uneven pacing. There are certain dramatic lulls, particularly when the characters theorize about the nature of this universe. Interestingly, most of these expositional scenes (and there are a few) paradoxically reveal very little. While the eventual reveal feels familiar, it does critically interrogate female objectification in a way that’s both progressive and cathartic.
After the more ponderous (and highly recommended) The Whispering Star, Sono’s Tag is a return to the more relentless and gratifying form that the Japanese filmmaker is known for. While it may not be his best work, it is hardly his weakest. Tag may offer a repackaging of a familiar concept, but it boasts enough quirky humour and frantic violence to make it a fresh experience.
TAG screens at Toronto After Dark on:
Thursday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
For more information on the festival, visit the official TAD webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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