Film Reviews Cat

Minamata (2020)


An environmental disaster happened in Minamata and the local people are suffering immensely because of it. And nobody can help because the source of the pollution is a local chemical factory which provides essential resources for Japan and beyond. 

This movie is based on a true story, and it has the following plot structure elements; 1: the life of Eugene. 2: the discovery of the environmental disaster. 3: opportunity for Eugene to redeem himself. 4: Success. 5: rising action and conflict. 6: resolution. These elements worked perfectly for me because it allows for a standard adoption of almost any given historical story. You could argue that they could have written a more creative plot structure, but in this case I would argue that a more ‘safe’ structure is better because of the nature of the environmental disaster. Moreover, it allows us to focus on the people, and the impact that an environmental disaster can have on a community. Therefore there is absolutely no need for an experimental plot structure. 

There are two main storylines within “Minamata”. The first one is that of the photographer Eugene (played by Johnny Depp). He is broke and we can consider him as a ‘failed’ human being that has to earn money to survive. And then there is the Minamata community who are in need of international media attention because of the local environmental disaster. These two elements work like a perfect marriage because they need each other to reach their own goals. Initially both sides don’t want to have anything to do with one another, but this changes when they see that there is no other alternative. Moreover, this movie teaches us that human created environmental disasters impact us all. There is no difference between different nationalities anymore because events like these affect us all no matter where we live. 

The main cast such as Johnny Depp did an amazing job telling the story of their character. You can, or rather should, expect this from Johnny Depp. However, I was pleasantly surprised that even the supporting cast managed to convey all of the necessary emotions. All the scenes felt like a documentary film, and this is something that you really want to achieve when making a movie that is based on a real event. Sometimes, you are watching similar movies that are too dramatic, or somehow unrealistic. But this movie is spot on. Additionally, there was not one unnecessary scene, or piece of dialogue. And this is something that you have to appreciate as an audience member because there are so many films which just use dialogue as a filler. 

To my knowledge this is the first real big film that was made about the Minamata disaster, and I can imagine that there will be another one. It might be a sequel, or a story based on this movie, but there is definitely room for a similar story. Maybe this is more of a *note to self*, but human caused environmental disaster movies is a subgenre that could be really relevant for the upcoming twenty years. So if you are interested in some future relevant script material then you might want to look into this. 

Overall, this is a perfect movie from a creative point of view, and I can’t think of anything bad to say about it. However, some people might perceive this movie differently because of their perception of Johnny Depp as a person. But in this case people should really focus on the story that is being told because this movie is not about the lead actor. Moreover, I can now say that I really missed a movie like this in 2020, and that this is the first time that I consider ‘having missed out on’ something because of the Covid-19 crisis. It really deserves a 10/10 because of all the technical, and creative reasons. You might find it not entertaining enough because you are missing gunshots, and explosions, but that would be on you.

Directed by 

Andrew Levitas

Writing Credits  

David Kessler(written by) (as David K. Kessler) &
Stephen Deuters(written by) &
Andrew Levitas(written by) &
Jason Forman(written by)

Cast (in credits order)  

Akiko IwaseMasako Matsumura
Johnny DeppW. Eugene Smith
Katherine JenkinsMillie
Bill NighyRobert Hayes
Tadanobu AsanoTatsuo Matsumura
Ryô KaseKiyoshi (as Ryo Kase)
Hiroyuki SanadaMitsuo Yamazaki
Jun KunimuraJunichi Nojima

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