A big Japanese whaling ship is going on another voyage to the ice seas.
Eventually, 2 Caucasians (Matthew Barney, Björk) are picked up, he is
shaved, she is bathed, they are put into ridiculous animal costumes, meet
their host (Sosui Oshima), who tells them about the ship having been
scarred by a big whale years ago, a scar that goes much deeper than the
slight bump in the ship's hull. Then the room of the two guests is flooded
with salt water and cod-liver oil, and the two start ripping off each
other's flesh and devouring it as if it was the most natural thing in the
world. At the same time some big artifact the ship's crew has picked up
from the sea starts to transform, and eventually, it seems everything -
artifact, ship, Caucasian guests - is turning into a whale ...
A film made up
from striking visuals with hardly any dialogue to distract from them, and
a great score by Björk to go with it ... but boy, is the film boring. It
takes almost two and a half hours to bring its story across, and it
doesn't hesitate to really tread out many of its less interesting scenes
just for their looks. The arthouse crowd and festival goers are bound to
love this film though because of its easy-to-grasp animalist and green
message, and there is nothing to say against the film's message
- but against its delivery that is full of heavy-handed metaphors,
wannabe-intellectual references most of the audience are bound not to
understand without a manual (and if an audience needs a manual for a film,
that's clearly the filmmaker's shortcoming) and wannabe artsy shots that
too often lack actual meaning.
All that said, Drawing Restraint 9
is not the worst film ever, it is after all visually captivating and the
weird ending is kind of cute, it just could have needed a lot of
tightening and a much more thought-through approach to become a really good film.